Sunday will be the first anniversary of the day the Nationals summoned then 19-year-old Bryce Harper to the big leagues. The move was supposed to be temporary, designed to replace some of the offense lost when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the DL. Instead, Harper played so well, the team had no choice but to keep him around.
Conveniently enough, the 20-year-old Harper played in his 162nd regular-season game on Saturday afternoon, helping the Nationals to a 6-3 win over the Reds with a solo homer. It was his ninth homer of the year. Here are Harper's stats through those first 162 career games:
- .284/.354/.518 batting line
- 31 doubles, 10 triples, 31 homers, 77 RBI
- 68 walks, 133 strikeouts
- 19-for-26 in stolen-base attempts
- 9.3 runs saved defensively by UZR, 15 runs saved by DRS
- 6.0 WAR according to FanGraphs, 6.8 WAR according to Baseball-Reference
That is 162 games worth of borderline MVP-caliber production from a player who was a teenager for 139 of those games. Harper had to settle for a Rookie of the Year Award instead.
It seems like we hear about one or two "generational talents" every year, but almost none of them has lived up to the billing like Harper. He hits, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays defense, he runs out every ground ball like it's Game 7 of the World Series, he does it all. Harper is a truly special player, and his career is just now one full year old.