Later this year, Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper will likely sign the richest contract in MLB history. Despite being just 25 years old, he is already on a Hall of Fame path.
Harper has won an NL MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year Award, and has five All-Star games on his resume. And even if the beard can sometimes get to be a bit much, there’s no question he has HOF hair.
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Through Harpers’ first six seasons, he’s averaged 25 home runs with a slash line of .285/.386/.515. Those numbers helped him average 4.3 WAR per season.
Taking a rather conservative approach, let’s assume that Harper maintains those averages for the next 10 seasons (for what it’s worth, there will likely be a number of MLB GMs willing to bet around $400 million that Harper exceeds those numbers—but that’s a story for next offseason).
So if Harper simply maintains his current level of production, he’ll finish the 2027 season with 400 career home runs and 69.1 WAR. That’s a higher WAR than Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson, and a host of other modern Hall of Fame outfielders.
If there is one knock on Harper, it’s his inability to stay on the field. Through his first six seasons, he has only appeared in an average of 128 games. 2015 was the only season in which he appeared in at least 150 games. Not coincidently, he finished that year in the top five in all three Triple Crown categories.
Fortunately, Harper’s time in the medical room is more attributable to fluke injuries than some recurring or degenerative condition. Assuming Harper’s injury luck stabilizes, he should be able to stay on the field for the majority of his team’s games.
A typical MLB career trajectory sees players having their peak seasons between the ages of 27-32, followed by varying degrees of regression. Can you imagine the damage a fully-healthy Harper would inflict on pitchers during his peak? There’s a reason why he’s about to become the highest-paid player in MLB history.
It is certainly not normal to examine the Hall of Fame chances for a player this young. But as the past six seasons have shown us, Bryce is hardly a “normal” 25-year-old. He’s been so good so early in his career, that even if he doesn’t improve, he’s on the path to the Hall of Fame.