Bryce Harper- A future HOF?

Bryce Harper came into the league in 2012 at 20 years old and immediately began making an impact. As a rookie, he became the youngest player to win the rookie of the year award and the first Washington National to ever win the award. Since his years as a teenager he has had expectations that you could compare to LeBron James when he was a teenager. His potential has always been Hall of Fame material, but in recent years he has cooled down and now the question being asked, is Bryce Harper on his way to the Hall of Fame?

Bryce Harper won the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, becoming the youngest player to ever win the award.

Early Years

In 2009, when Harper was a 16 year old high school phenom, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “Baseball’s Chosen One”. Harper attended Las Vegas High School for two years before attending college. Harper finished his sophomore year of High School with a batting average of .569, a slugging percentage of 1.015, and totaled 37 hits in just 23 games played. After his name got out he was referred to as the “LeBron James of baseball” by Sports Illustrated and graduated high school early to attend the College of Southern Nevada and continue to play baseball in the National Junior College Athletic Association. He would go on to break the school record for the most home runs after recording 31 home runs. He also won the SWAC Player of the Year, and the Golden Spikes Award.

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Harper was drafted by the Washington Nationals with the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft. He would then go on to sign a five-year rookie deal worth up to $9.9 million. Harper made his debut on April 28th, 2012 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Harper ended his debut 1 for 3 with an RBI double and a sac fly as the Nationals fell short to the Dodgers by a score of 4-3. Harper would go on to finish the season with a .270 batting average, 22 homeruns, 59 runs batted in and 144 total hits in 139 games played. These numbers were good enough for him to earn his first All-Star appearance and become the youngest player ever to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16

Stardom Begins

Harper began to brighten his name during his 2nd year during the 2013 season. At age 20 he became the youngest player to start an All-Star Game since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990, becoming the fourth-youngest player to ever start an All-Star Game. In May he injured his left knee running into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium, the injury kept him out of action for more than a month. When Harper returned he homered in his first at-bat, but the management put limitations on his playing time to only 118 games of the 162. Harper finished the season with a .274 batting average, 20 homeruns, 58 runs batted in on 116 total hits, nearly matching his rookie numbers in 21 less games. During the start of the 2014 season Harper was never able to get into stride as he missed more than two months after he injured his left thumb two weeks into the season. After he got back it was hard for him to get into rhythm as he finished the year with career worsts in homeruns (13) runs batted in (32) and his on-base plus slugging percentage (.768). On the bright side, Harper was able to hit three home runs in their four game division series loss to the Giants in the postseason.

Harper during the 2013 MLB All-Star Game

Most Valuable Player

In 2015 Harper was only 22 years old and he put his full potential on display for the entire MLB. Harper hit a career-high .330 and led the majors in home runs (42), on base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649) and OPS (1.109). Harper became the youngest player to ever win unanimous MVP. He posted the second best OPS in a season ever behind the great Ted Williams, who most regard as the greatest hitter of all time. In 2016 Harper picked up right where he left off in 2015, that would not last long. Harper hit a slump when May came around and it stuck with him up until October. In April Harper was batting .286 with an OPS of 1.121 and a homerun every 8.6 at bats, those numbers dropped to .235, .759, and 28.6 from May to October. It was later reported that Harper was dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season.

In 2017 Harper was brought back to life and displayed his Hall of Fame potential again, Harper was hitting .326 with 29 home runs and a 1.034 OPS up until his knee injury in August that kept him out a month and a half. Despite the injury Harper finished the season posting the second best numbers of his career. He finished with a .319 batting average, .413 on base percentage, .595 slugging percentage, and 14.5 at bats per home runs. Going into 2018 Harper was on the last year of his contract and was striving to prove his worth of a max contract. He finished with a disappointing batting average of .249 but made up for it with his 34 homeruns and a career high 100 runs batted in. He also played in a career-high 159, which was important for a upcoming free agent with injury problems in his career. Harper agreed to a 13 year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on November 28, 2018.

Harper with the 2015 MVP trophy

Hall of Fame Worthy?

Now that you have read all about Bryce Harper, would you consider him to be on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Harper has an NL Rookie of the Year Award, NL MVP Award, Silver Slugger and six All Star selections with 12 years left on his contract. Assuming his production stays similar to what he has provided he on pace to finish his career with 548 home runs, 1,588 runs batted in and a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 79.5. 548 home runs would be tied for 16th all-time with current Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, 1,588 RBIs would be 41st all time and a WAR of 79.5 would rank 41st, one spot behind Pete Rose. Harper’s current OPS of .897 ranks 69th all time and his career OBP of .385 ranks higher then Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, David Ortiz, and Vlad Guerrero

Harper has definitely showed us his potential is Hall of Fame material with performances as dominating as his 2015 and 2017 seasons. His 2015 MVP season raises his chances tremendously as that is seen as one of the best MVP seasons ever especially for a 22-year-old just getting started. Harper’s career has been filled with ups and downs. From consecutive injuries and months missed to one of the best seasons from a position player in the history of the league. Of course, a ring would certainly help Harper’s chances increase, while in search for that ring he needs to stay consistent. If Harper can mimic what he has done in his career so far while adding a solid post season resume, he will have certainly earned a spot up in Cooperstown New York.