Washington Nationals: A personal year of lessons learned
By Ron Juckett
THIS HARPER KID CAN PLAY
My first introduction to Bryce Harper came around his senior year in high school. Not a personal one, but a video of him as part of a national team taking batting practice a St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Dome.
The boy struck laser shots off the scoreboard in right-center. So, it was a metal bat, but he smashed baseballs off the scoreboard attached to a wall 450 feet away. Remember, he caught Erick Fedde in high school.
Harper had a down year in 2016. From watching his last month, something was not right. He never defended the outside of the plate with his bat. There was the weekend at Turner Field he played defense so shallow like a softball rover would. Not good times.
This year, a different story.
Every team needs someone who when the going gets rough and carry them on his back. I had the great pleasure of watching David Ortiz do it in Boston and Harper to it this summer. He is not the decisive brat some make him out to be.
Harper has matured since his debut at 19. So, big deal, he wants to make baseball fun again. What I see from him is not arrogance, but confidence. His ability to hit for high average and power, along with a cannon of an outfield arm, makes him a five-tool threat.
Who cares if he roots for the Dallas Cowboys?
If the Nats and Harper come to a deal that makes sense for both parties long-term, he will win multiple World Series for Washington. He can change any game with a single play and his teammates will respond in kind. That ability is rare and special.
My goodness, he is still 24. The best years are not here yet.