This week's post was almost a intimate look at Shohei Otani’s NSFW split fingered fastball from his ridiculous start Sunday in which he struck out 12 A’s over 7 innings of one hit baseball. This against a formidable offense that was seeing him for the second time in a week. However, rather than have Screaming Line Out become the official blog post of Shohei Otani it was decided maybe anything else should be the subject of this week.

Before there was Babe Ohtani. Before Kershaw solidified his status as a Hall of Famer by age 30. Before Michael Nelson Trout showed us he was the best to ever play the game there was this writer’s first baseball man crush, Bryce Harper. He is often spoken of with an affinity that only Shakespearian lovers could identify with. His hair alone the inspiration of legends and the reason at least one 30 year old man[1] thought he could pull off fades and undercuts. If what he has done for the first two weeks of 2018 is any indication this is going to be another amazing year in his young career which has already seen him put up offensive numbers not seen outside of inner circle hall of famers and Barry Bonds.

via GIPHY

Bryce’s slash line as of this writing is .316/.500/.789. As any responsible writer would, there is need to mention that two weeks is a small sample size and not to put too much stock into these numbers yada yada. Even with that in mind, it is impossible not to grin looking at what he is doing. Currently he leads the league in home runs with 6. He also stands in 2nd place in ISO leaderboards(.474) without any other type of extra base hit. He is currently leading both fangraphs and baseball reference offensive WAR leaderboards and is one of only three players with at least 230 wCR+. Those same three players are the only ones to have a wOBA over .500. For reference, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton’s monster offensive seasons last year resulted in a .430 and .410 wOBA respectively, these both included 50+ HRs.

The scary thing for anyone whose livelihood depends on getting Harper out is there is reason to believe that this isn’t even the best he is capable of. His .222 BABIP indicates he may have faced some tough luck during this torrid stretch. The league average BABIP is usually around .300 and his career is .322, meaning positive regression may be on the way. As mentioned some stats, counting stats in particular, are basically useless this early in the the season. Rate ones stats however are not and they show Harper may is on his way to the insane season many predicted from him. He is walking more and striking out less than his career numbers and if those rates hold up he may start to reach the “Baseball LeBron” level Sport Illustrated saddled on him as a teenager. Even his contact percentage is currently 69% down from his career 75.9% so again the room for improvement is plentiful.

Bryce is on a mission to get paid when he becomes a free agent this offseason. He is trying to become the highest paid player in baseball history and there is no reason to doubt he will. His combination of skills, youth and big league league experience will allow him to command almost any contract he could want. Only time will tell if he will break all of our hearts by joining the worst organization on the planet, have fun with his best friend on the North Side of Chicago or any other big market team who sees him as their salvation regardless, his road to 2019’s transformative free agent class is going to be the fun part so strap in because he is just getting started.

Tweet of the Week:


  1. Me ↩︎