The Baseball Writers Association of America has announced live on MLB Network that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has won the National League Rookie of the Year honors for the 2012 season. Harper obtained 16 first-place votes, ahead of Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley by 4 first-place votes and 7 total points. Harper is now the youngest player to ever win the award, passing Mets pitcher Dwight (Doc) Gooden.
Harper finished the year with a .270 batting average, 22 home runs and 59 RBIs. Harper also had 57 extra-base hits, which led all rookies.
Harper joined a Nationals club that had struggled offensively with injuries to Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, and just about every other player on the roster, and gave them the offensive boost they needed.
But who can forget the magical “Stealing Home?”
In the second week of his big league career, Harper got “welcomed” to the league by the arrogant Cole Hamels, taking a fastball in the back in his first at-bat of the game. Two batters later, Hamels made a laxidasical throw to first base to hold Jayson Werth, and Harper, now at third base, made a b-line for home plate, sliding under the glove of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
A “five-tool prodigy,” as put by MLB Network’s Brian Kenny, Harper put up a .477 slugging, .340 on-base percentage, and 254 total bases in 597 plate appearances. He also got it done in the field, posting a 17.6 UZR/150 (4th in the National League) and 13 Defensive Runs Saved (5th in the league), answering any questions about his defensive ability. This being the man that was playing catcher in junior college just two years ago, now putting together top-5 numbers in center field for a first-place team.
One thing that many people forget is that Harper was denied a spot on the team after Spring Training, and after hitting just .250 at AA Harrisburg in April, he adjusted quickly to the big leagues to put together an award-winning season.
So many highlight-reel moments, so many smiles placed on fans, so much production, so much fun to watch.
Well-done, Bryce. Well-done.