In Florida, Bryce Harper is hitting .474. It’s only 19 at-bats, but everything he hits is a missile. So once again, we ask, “How good will Harper be and how soon?” The most likely answer may surprise you: amazingly good and very soon, probably this season.
With a huge winter storm fixing Washington right in its crosshairs, let’s think warm thoughts. Let’s imagine what Harper, who had the best overall season of any teenager in big league history last year, might do if he has, say, one of the best 20 seasons of any 20-year-old.
At that age, Ted Williams drove in 145 runs, and Mel Ott 151. Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb and Al Kaline hit .358, .350 and .340, respectively, and all won the batting title. That may have been A-Rod’s best season ever. Frank Robinson hit 38 homers, and Tony Conigliaro led the American League with 32.
Vada Pinson and Mike Trout scored 131 and 129 runs. Mickey Mantle finished third in the MVP voting. Pudge Rodriguez and Johnny Bench were all-stars and won Gold Gloves. Miguel Cabrera’s cleanup slugging (12 postseason RBI) helped the Marlins to a world title. Jimmie Foxx, Arky Vaughan, Rogers Hornsby, Orlando Cepeda and Ken Griffey Jr. hit .328, .318, .313, .312 and .300, respectively.
And at 20, Babe Ruth went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA as a southpaw pitcher for the world champion Red Sox and hit .315 when they let him bat.
Before you say, “Harper can’t possibly do anything like that,” just look at his numbers for the last 41 games of last season. He hit .327 with 12 homers, 37 runs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.045. How good is 1.045? It is exactly the OPS that both A-Rod and Teddy Ballgame had at 20. Harper most likely won’t be that good. But a year ago, who thought he would be the best teenager ever, edging out Ott (who hit 42 homers at 20)?
If Bryce Harper has historic season, don’t be surprised
Washington Post | Mar 6