1. Bryce Harper (WSH)
2016 stats: .243/.373/.441, 24 home runs, 86 RBI’s, 84 runs scored in 147 games
After a MVP season in 2015, it seemed the sky was the limit for Harper. Then, he began the 2016 season with having nine home runs and 24 RBI’s in the first month of the season. However, after being put on base seven times in a game against the Cubs in May, the production slipped.
Earlier this week, his agent, Scott Boras, went on MLB Network and said that Harper did play with an injury issue last season, which could explain the dramatic drop off in his power numbers (one home run after August 31):
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Over the last two seasons, Harper has been patient at the plate and that has led to high on-base percentages (.460 in 2015 and .373 in 2016). He has walked 100+ times each of the last two seasons, including a league leading 124 in 2015.
Harper has been a National League All-Star in four of his five seasons in the league. When he’s healthy, he has proven to be one of the best hitters in baseball. The question going into 2017 is can he stay healthy and be the power threat in the lineup that the Washington Nationals need to achieve their ultimate goal.
From a defensive standpoint, Harper’s defensive runs saved total went down as well. After having six runs saved in 2015, it went down to -3 in 2016 (Fangraphs). Towards the end of the season, Harper was playing shallow at times in right field, which caused too many balls to go over his head.
Right now, I would expect Harper to bounce back in 2017 and look closer to the MVP player he was in 2015 than the struggles he had a season ago.