Washington Nationals: Analyzing Bryce Harper’s April dominance

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Bryce Harper
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Bryce Harper /
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Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is unstoppable in April, but he shows his mortality during the rest of the year. What gives?

Even with a cast of all-stars dotting the Washington Nationals roster, all eyes remain laser-focused on right fielder Bryce Harper as he ticks closer and closer to free agency. And with a massive contract looming, the 25-year-old could not have gotten off to a hotter start in 2018.

Through 10 games, Harper is batting .333/.529/.879 with a league-leading six homers and 16 walks. There is so much bold ink on his Baseball-Reference page right now that it looks like an octopus was tallying his numbers.

And this torrid start is not unusual for Harper. While the rest of baseball finds their sea legs early in the season, Harper typically storms out of the gates. In fact, on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian said Harper’s career 1.099 OPS is the highest mark in March and April of all-time. 

Check out his batting splits through the end of April for each individual season (excluding 2012, when he wasn’t called up until April 28, though he did post a very tidy .861 OPS through the end of May).

Year March/April OPS
2018 1.408
2017 1.281
2016 1.121
2015 .985
2014 .773
2013 1.150

These are just gargantuan numbers. Harper has a flair for the dramatic, so its not surprising that he still manages offensive fireworks during the chilliest month of the regular season.

However, while the April numbers are historic, the rest of the season is more of a slog. Here are Harper’s career splits by month.

Month OPS
March/April 1.099
May .936
June .878
July .821
August .854
Sept./Oct. .883

Harper is still very solid during the rest of the season, but he is no longer otherworldly. His June through September numbers are equivalent to 2017 Domingo Santana. And honestly, it’s totally unfair to expect a four-digit OPS for the entire season. However, when agent Scott Boras is looking for $400 million next winter, he will be cherry-picking the April version of Harper, rather than the June-September version.

So when the weather ticks upwards, why has Harper started to slip? And will he struggle again in 2018? Let’s dive in!