The two words that every second-year player does not want to hear at any point during the season: sophomore slump. Even an average player hopes to avoid hearing that phrase. But a player with the skill set of Bryce Harper will be scrutinized even more.
A slow start, an 0-for-12 skid or a slow month, and the talk will inevitably begin.
Harper, however, has shown resilience in his young career. Because of that, he will not have to worry about a sophomore slump in 2013.
Despite bursting onto the scene last season, Harper did experience a slump in July and August. He was able to dig his way out of it, however, and finished the season and the postseason very strong. This was a small test of how he handles the pressure of a slump. It was a test in which he passed.
Harper has certainly faced his share of pressure as well—another encouraging sign that he will be able to avoid the second-year jitters that many players fall victim to.
Harper was under an enormous amount of pressure last season, yet he was able to put aside the hype, the expectations and the craze that took the NL over when he arrived.
Another factor that Harper will have on his side to avoid a slump is the emergence of Mike Trout for the L.A. Angels of Anaheim. Trout, who was MVP caliber last season, has the task of trying to live up to the year that he had in 2012. Harper, who might not be MVP caliber just yet, will always have Trout to take some of the attention away from him.
There will be those who will measure Harper against Trout, but Harper can use that to his advantage. He can personally use Trout's success as a motivating factor as he moves forward.
These factors are all reasons that Harper can likely avoid a sophomore slump in 2013 and have a year that will be on pace, if not better than last season.