4) WHAT ABOUT BRYCE HARPER?
After showing on Instagram he bulked up 15 pound this offseason to 230, Bryce Harper comes into 2017 with a huge chip on his shoulder.
From questions last year over his health and commitment, Harper enjoyed his time away. Aside from a healthy raise, he is a newlywed. As he returns to the Nationals, no one player is ready to show what he can do than he is.
Although we will never know if his shoulder hindered Harper last year, even his biggest fans must concede he was off.
Now, statistics during the spring mean nothing. If he hits .100 without homering—which would set off a panic on talk radio and the internet—it is more important to watch his swing and how Harper handles throwing from the outfield. Those two parts of his game were off last year.
If he can regain his throwing arm and timing on a swing, his offseason conditioning program then worked. It is important to see confidence and swagger. As the Nats progress through 2017, Harper’s ability to play at a high level is crucial if they are to advance in the playoffs.
Still, he need not hit .500 and 10 dingers next month to do that. Watch for the subtle things such as his swing and his arm instead. If they break camp with him showing a touch of arrogance, good things are about to happen.