If there is something Bryce Harper cannot do well on a baseball diamond, the league has yet to figure it out. Hitting against left-handed pitchers was supposed to be a weakness. At Class AAA this year, Harper went 4 for 21 against them with six strikeouts.
But in the majors, he has mashed lefties. After tallying three more hits against lefties last night, including a double and a homer, Harper is 15 for 41 (.366) against left-handers with two homers, two triples, three doubles and four walks.
“I would say I’ve felt pretty confident up there against lefties,” Harper said. “I feel like I’m a little more calm against them. I’m not trying to do too much. Righties, I get so excited about it, because I’m a lefty so I like righties a lot. But in those situations, I’m just trying to put the barrel on the ball and do something over the shortstop’s head, the third baseman’s head. I’m not trying to do too much. I think that’s what good for me.”
Harper’s success against lefties speaks to his ability to adjust. When facing the opposing starter for the first time, Harper has an .822 OPS. In his at-bats facing the starter for a second time, Harper has a 1.282 OPS.
Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr managed Harper in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, right after Harper had turned 18. He noticed his ability to adjust even then.
“He would just make better adjustments already at his age,” Knorr said. “A guy would throw a couple breaking balls at him, and he’d look bad on them. And then they’d try it again and he’d rifle them somewhere. So he was already doing it back then.
“I just think he computes what happened to him. I think he comes back and looks at his at-bat and realizes where he missed in that at-bat, and he’s going to make the adjustment. And that’s what’s amazing about it, the ability to make the adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. That’s why he’s as good as he is.”