Bryce Harper was a consensus top three pick in most fantasy leagues in 2016. As we all know he didn’t live up to that after April of last year, but can the Washington Nationals right fielder rejoin the fantasy elite in 2017?
In 2015, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was the unanimous NL MVP and was a fantasy baseball hero for anyone who had him on their team. 2016 fantasy drafts all had names like Trout, Goldschmidt, Kershaw and of course Harper somewhere in their top three. Most of those names lived up to the hype and then there was the months of May-October for Bryce Harper.
Thankfully, 2016 is over for Harper owner. If you are in a keeper league, it would be hard to find anyone who is letting Harper go back into the draft. Harper clearly has the upside we all hunt for in early March while trying to draft our dream team, but what is his 2017 fantasy year really looking like?
Well, lets get this out of the way. Barring injury, Harper isn’t going to finish 23rd in the outfield on ESPN’s player rater. He is also still going to cost a first round pick to get him on your team unless you were one of the lucky ones who got to keep him on your team. If he performs anything like he did in 2015, he will be worth that early pick.
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In Harper’s MVP season, he stole six bags. Last season, he stole 21. He likely will be given just as much of a green light this year under Dusty Baker. That is one category he will help in for your fantasy team.
You can certainly pencil Harper in for 20+ home runs. Harper had a bad year for his standards in 2016 and still launched 24, thats another category he is all but guaranteed to help in for 2017.
Last year, Harper had his career low BABIP of .264 according to Fangraphs. It’s very likely that he will get back around the league average of a .300 BABIP. Before 2016. Harper had always been a high BABIP player with his previous low of .310 coming in his rookie year. A higher BABIP means a higher average, Harper figures to help in the batting average category as well.
The other two categories in most category leagues depend more on the players that surround Harper in the Washington Nationals lineup. Those are runs batted in and runs scored. Harper has never had a duo like Eaton and Turner in front of him. If he bats fourth, you can just add Daniel Murphy to that already strong duo.
This means Harper will have plenty of chances to drive in some runs and contribute to your RBI category. Harper will also have 2016 NL Comeback Player of the Year Anthony Rendon and everyone’s favorite beard, Jayson Werth, behind him to bring him home. With Harper’s great ability to draw a walk, he will be out there to bring in and help your runs scored category too.
Harper helps in all five batting categories and will likely be an above average contributor in each. For points league, all of those attributes will bring in huge points for your team as well.
2016 was weird for Harrper and I still lean toward the idea that he was dealing with some sort of injury. Given a healthy spring training and maybe settling for opposite field a little more. Harper owners can count on a huge bounce back in 2017.
In most mock drafts I’ve been apart of so far, Harper has been going between picks eight and 11. If you can get him anywhere after the eighth pick, you have to do it.
There is a risk and there will likely be safer players left. Safe isn’t always the way to go in fantasy as I’m sure most of you know. When you have someone with upside who has shown you the peak of that in the past, you have to grab him while you can.