Oct 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) celebrates after hitting a solo home run as he rounds the bases past San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (left) during the seventh inning of game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Player I Love: Bryce Harper
This pick is going to surprise approximately no one. If there’s any candidate for a breakout season on the Nationals roster, it’s Bryce Harper. The entire fan base has been foaming at the mouth since last October, just waiting for 2015 to start to see what Bryce was ready to do.
It’s easy to understand the reason for the anticipation. In an NLDS where the Nationals had no semblance of an ability to score, Harper crushed ball after ball against the Giants (particularly the mouthy Hunter Strickland). Those bombs looked like they were coming from a young player who had just found his stroke.
Forgive me if you think I’m wrong, but I have to admit that I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid from a firehose during the offseason. Harper just turned 22 in October, and, for whatever reason, he’s been hitting in the bottom half of the order.
That will change in 2015, and if it doesn’t, Matt Williams should be fired on the spot for gross incompetence. Harper will most likely move up to third in the order, where he’ll hit behind Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. If Span keeps his offensive output at the level that he managed during the second half of last season, and Anthony Rendon keeps being Anthony Rendon, Harper’s solo shots from the playoffs could turn into two- and three-run homers.
Harper is the sort of player who loves the limelight, and he should be able to handle a move into the top three hitting spots. Of course, as we all know, Harper’s biggest worry will be his injuries. If he can avoid those, though, he’s the first on my list of players I love for 2015.
Next: Players I Love: Anthony Rendon