ESPN Player Poll Votes Bryce Harper Most Overrated, This Fact Might Make You Reconsider

By Mike Cardillo

For the last three years the baseball world’s been waiting for Bryce Harper to break out. Yes, his forearm muscles have certainly popped onto the scene, which isn’t quite the impact everyone around the sport expected when the Nationals took him with the first overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

All told, in parts of three seasons Harper’s put up a slash line of .272/.351/.465 with 55 home runs. Solid, respectable numbers. The key number when talking about Harper is games played. Across those three seasons he’s played in only 357 games. His rookie year in 2012 was limited since he began the year in the minors, but after that he only played in 118 and 100 the next two years respectively.

Watching from afar, it feels like we’ve only seen glimpses of what Harper is capable of doing on a baseball diamond. The NLDS vs. the Giants last October was a brief glimpse of this still untapped potential. Harper hit four home runs in 17 at bats, doing his best impression of beast mode — baseball style.

Anyways, this stat is nothing new and has been floating around the baseball web for a while (originating from Baseball Prospectus), but it got retweeted into my feed Tuesday afternoon and it’s fairly illuminating about Harper, in a big picture sense:

There’s a great breakdown, here, of which player might snap that streak for Harper.

Stuff like this is easy to forget, but he’s still only 22 years old. When you start looking at Harper historically, at his age he stacks up fairly well. His age 19 season, per Baseball-Reference, puts Harper alongside names like Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Robin Yount and Ken Griffey Jr. (Bonus fun fact: Harper hit more triples at age 19 than the immortal Oyster Burns.) Injuries curtailed his age 20 and 21 seasons, for comparison sake.

For a more modern-day comparison, the same year Harper won National League Rookie of the Year (2012), Mike Trout took home the same honor in the American League. In the next two years Trout put together back-to-back historic, MVP level seasons. Trout logged 157 games in each of those seasons, so he’s obviously proven much more durable than Harper. By the same token, comparing Trout and Harper makes for an easy, ready-made debate but isn’t it possible they could both be very good at the same time?

Try taking some of this into considerstaion about Harper, especially on the same day an ESPN player poll voted him the most-overrated player in the game with 41 percent of the vote. If he figures out a way to stay on the field for 140+ games, that poll is going to look awfully foolish.

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