Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper in perfect shape for fateful season

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 10: Bryce Harper
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 10: Bryce Harper /

Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper is in the best shape of his life heading into a potentially fateful season. Could 2018 be his best year yet?

2018 is an enormous year for the Washington Nationals, as they will attempt to finally exorcise their postseason demons with a new coaching staff in place, but it may be an even bigger year for Bryce Harper. The 25-year-old superstar is entering the final year of his contract, embarking on the most anticipated possible free agency of all-time.

Players typically feel extra pressure in contract years, since their negotiations depend on it, which sometimes leads to diminished results. In an effort to avoid struggling, Harper has become extra focused this off-season. Although it is cliche, he may actually be in the best shape of his life.

Harper spends the off-season in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, where he works out with Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo. Gallo recently joined MLB Network radio, and spent part of his interview discussing Harper’s off-season preparation.

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Gallo pointed out that he has been working out with Harper for a few years, and he has never seen him as prepared for the season. If Gallo’s comments ring true, this could be an intimidating thought for opposing pitchers.

Harper is one of the hardest working players in the league, so showing up to Spring Training in great shape is nothing new. However, we rarely hear the “best shape of his life” cliche about him. When was the last time he was supposedly in the best shape of his life, you might ask? 2015.

2015, Harper’s age-22 season, will go down as one of  the greatest individual seasons of all-time. The superstar put up a .330/.460/.649 slash line along with 42 homers, 99 RBI’s, 118 runs scored, and 124 walks, en route to being named the unanimous MVP. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old.

Now, Harper is supposedly in even better shape and even more focused. Watch out, league.

If 2015 was any precursor of what is to come in 2018, Harper could be ready to produce yet another historic season. This is perfect timing for the young superstar, as he could get paid even more than his reported $400 million asking price.

However, it is great timing for the Nats as well. Even if Harper departs after 2018, they will receive one final great season from the most notable player in their brief history. Perhaps this could even carry the Nats over the hump and into the promised land of the World Series.

Next: Pace of play problems are real

Harper has been a great player throughout his six-year career with the Nats, but he could outdo himself into 2018. Stay tuned; you won’t want to miss it.