Bryce Harper has made vast improvements from his Rookie of the Year season in 2012—improvements so great that he's already put his name in the running for early-season National League MVP.
Harper has gotten off to a scorching hot start. Through 34 games, Harper is hitting .297/.387/.619 with 10 home runs, 21 RBI and 22 runs scored. He's on pace to shatter last season's 22 home runs and 59 RBI.
The dreaded "sophomore slump" has not been an issue for the 20-year-old left fielder, as the improvements he made during the offseason have given him an edge against opposing pitchers that has yet to be figured out. While he has plenty of pure talent, there's more to his improvement than just natural skill.
Harper works hard. His teammates and fans see how hard he hustles on the field each game, and he's earned the respect of many because of it. What many people don't see is how hard Harper works off the field. That training and preparation is what's helped him improve so much.
The numbers he's produced thus far aren't just early-season marks. They're here to stay, mostly because of his commitment to getting better.