It was an interesting two days at Nats Park on Tuesday and Wednesday when the Washington Nationals took on the New York Yankees. Of course, the talk still remains about a budding superstar in Bryce Harper, who has ten home runs in his last 13 games. Harper continues to take Washington DC and the league by storm. One of the players who has been impressed by the 22-year old is the Yankees designated hitter, Alex Rodriguez.
On Tuesday, A-Rod made comments to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News about what has stood out to him about Harper:
“I love everything about him,” Rodriguez said. “I like players that play hard. He wears his emotion on his sleeve, he’s a gamer and he’s a winner. As a fan of baseball, I would pay big money to watch him play — especially to watch him hit.” (h/t NY Daily News)
One of the things that also stood out in Feinsand’s piece was how Rodriguez brought up the pressures of being a young superstar in this era of 24/7 social media, which is what Haprer is going through. Rodriguez, who made his debut with the Mariners in 1996 as a 18-year old:
“The pressure that he’s under doesn’t even compare,” Rodriguez said. “His is so much harder, so much more challenging than when I came up. We didn’t have any of the social media stuff. I give Bryce a lot of credit for how he’s handling everything.
In a way, you can compare Harper to Rodriguez in terms of how polarizing both athletes are, but on different levels. Of course, Harper doesn’t have the steroid cloud looming over his head like A-Rod does and he won’t get booed on the road the way Rodriguez did by Nats fans on Tuesday and Wednesday night when he came up to bat in the ninth inning.
That being said, Harper was voted by his peers as the most overrated player in the game by ESPN The Magazine, a moniker that was given to A-Rod in 2011 in a player poll conducted by Sports Illustrated.
Let’s take a look at their age 22 seasons, which is what Harper is currently in. For Alex, that was in 1998 when he was the Seattle Mariners. During that All-Star season, he hit .310, had 42 home runs, 124 RBI’s, had 213 hits, and a WAR of 8.3. Normally, that would lead most teams, as in Harper’s case, but Rodriguez had a future Hall Of Famer on his team. That guy was Ken Griffey Jr.. Griffey had 56 home runs and drove in 146 runs during that season.
If Harper can stay healthy, he could match A-Rod’s 1998 season in terms of the numbers, but there is one thing Harper already has the edge on. In 161 games in 1998, Rodriguez walked 45 times. Harper has already walked 37 times this season alone in 41 games.
As you watch one star end his career in Rodriguez, who by the way is having a very good comeback season as he has ten home runs, fans should hope Harper’s career turns out to be like Rodriguez’s, minus the steroids of course.