Spring Training 2011: 10 Reasons Bryce Harper Should NOT Be in the Majors Yet
Forget about Stephen Strasburg—Bryce Harper is the hottest thing in baseball now. His bat has been compared to the late, great Ted Williams and he might be the most hyped prospect of all-time.
It is hard to say whether or not Harper is ready to break into the bigs. Last season, he played in junior college and the year before that, he was still in high school.
Do you think that Bryce Harper is ready for the show? I don’t think he is quite there. If the Nationals are smart, they will wait until they call Harper up to the majors.
These are the top 10 reasons why Bryce Harper should not be on the Opening Day roster for 2011.
10. The Major League Season Is Long
In 2010, Harper played 66 games for the College of Southern Nevada, and the year before in high school, he only played 38 games.
A standard major league season is 162 games, plus spring training. If Harper makes the opening day roster, then he will need to prepare for a season that is more than twice as long as his college career was.
The major league season is too long for Harper to jump into one year removed from college. In the minors, teams generally play around 120-140 games. This would be a good start for Harper—maybe in 2012 he could be ready to play in the big show.
9. Let the Anticipation Build
Last season, the Nationals waited until June for Stephen Strasburg to make his big league debut. The media was everywhere. Suddenly, the lowly Nationals were the hottest ticket in the league.
They now have the same opportunity to do this with Harper. The longer they keep him in the minors, the more the anticipation and excitement will build up.
So if I am the Nationals, I continue to hype Harper as long as possible. Then, once he finally does come out, he has the same effect that Strasburg did last season.
8. Cheaper for Nationals
Keeping Harper in the minors is a better move financially for the Washington Nationals. When a player is drafted, they are usually paid their signing bonus up-front. Their actual contract isn’t usually paid until they finally make the majors.
If the Nationals keep Harper in the minors, they will have the opportunity to hold off on paying out his big deal.
They already have big contracts in Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, they don’t want to spend even more money on a last place team.
7. His Expectations Are Too High
Can Bryce Harper live up to his expectations? He is being compared to Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters to ever live.
If Harper is not one of the best hitters in the league by day one, then he will be considered a disappointment. Harper cannot go anywhere but down.
I don’t want him rushed to the majors, because fans might give up on him in his rookie season if he doesn’t perform. He probably needs a few years of work before he can be a great major league hitter.
6. He Needs to Work on His Attitude
Everything about Bryce Harper seems so perfect—except for his attitude. The Nationals say that they are not worried, but this is a bigger issue than they think.
In his final college game, Harper was ejected—it was his second time that season. All of the hype seems to have gone to Harper’s head. He plays as if he has a sense of entitlement, he appears to be overwhelmingly arrogant and is known to taunt opposing teams.
If he wants to become a star, he needs to work on his image. The minor leagues could be a good, humbling experience for Harper.
5. He Needs to Learn How to Play the Outfield
Before being drafted, Harper had been a catcher and occasionally an infielder. Outfield is not incredibly hard to learn, but it is still a new position.
I think it would be smart to allow Harper to learn his new position in the minors for awhile.
The Diamondbacks had a similar situation when they rushed Justin Upton—previously a shortstop—to the major leagues as an outfielder. His first few seasons in the majors were filled with dropped fly balls, missed reads and wild throws.
Harper needs to be given time to adjust to his new spot.
4. He Hasn’t Hit Well in Spring
Right now, Bryce Harper only has one hit in spring training. I know he has had only nine at-bats, but I would have expected the next Ted Williams to be better.
Harper has a lot of time to improve his numbers during spring, but as of now he has not been impressive. It appears that he is overmatched.
This is his first look at big league pitching. He is obviously not ready and needs at least a few months before he is totally acclimated to it.
3. The Nationals Have a Strong Outfield
The Nationals' starting outfield appears to be strong.
LF- Jayson Werth
CF- Nyjer Morgan
RF- Rick Ankiel
If Harper was on the Opening Day roster, there might be no room for him to start. You might as well give him starts in the minors. Harper will not improve by sitting on the bench for the Nationals.
2. The Nationals Are Not Contenders
Quick show of hands: Does anybody think the Washington Nationals have any chance of making the playoffs? That’s what I thought.
There is absolutely no reason to have Harper in the majors. He has a better chance to improve in the minors, and he doesn’t contribute too much to the major league squad.
If Harper is called up this season, it has nothing to do with winning. The only reason he will play is because of injuries or if the Nationals want to put more people in the seats.
1. The Big League Jump Is Tough to Make
Once you make it to the big leagues, the pitching is better, the crowd is louder and the season is tougher. It is tough to say that a kid just two years removed from high school is ready for the majors.
There is still so much that Harper needs to learn and a long way until he matures. He has the potential to be a great player someday, but today is not the day.
He is still a year or two away from being major league-ready. The Washington Nationals need to do the smart thing and give him time to develop.