For weeks, there has been plenty of debating about whether Nationals rookie Bryce Harper belonged on the National League all-star roster. As some across baseball have pointed out, the 19-year old will have plenty of time in his career to make an all-star team and more deserving players have earned a spot. Others have pointed out that this, in fact, is entertainment and Harper can provide that.
Fans will ultimately be the deciding factor and they’ll have until 4 p.m. Thursday to consider Harper, along with four other finalists, for the final spot on the roster. All-star team managers, along with Major League Baseball, nominated players for the final ballot.
After hearing he was on among the five finalists, Harper was reverent to one notable competitor: Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, a veteran who is playing well in his final season before retirement.
“It’s an accomplishment, I guess, but you got Chipper up there,” he said. “So, I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to all-star game his last year. If I was going to make a vote, I’d go vote for Chip.”
Harper has often talked about veteran players and some of the greats he admires such as Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose and George Brett. Given the chance to state his case, Harper did so but not without constantly deferentially stumping for Jones.
“He should have already been in the all-star game no matter what,” he said. “He’s an all-star and has been an all-star for twenty years. I think Chip should be there.”
Asked if he ever thought about making the all-star team this season, Harper acknowledged it crossed his mind: “When my numbers were better, I think so. But been struggling a little bit for the past two and half weeks or so.”
Harper’s numbers may not match up well against his four other finalists but what he has done this year has been impressive, especially given his age. And, he is among the game’s most exciting players and attraction given his fame and abilities.
Here’s who Harper is up against with the traditional triple slash line of batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Home runs, RBI and at-bats are also listed below, as are wins above replacement (WAR), a statistical metric that measures how valuable a player is above an a replacement Class AAA player, with anything near or above 5 being great.
>>> Michael Bourn, CF, Atlanta Braves: .302/.350/.435, 7 home runs, 29 RBI in 331 at-bats. WAR: 3.7.
>>> David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: .279/.330/.478, 13 home runs, 48 RBI in 272 at-bats. WAR: 1.2.
>>> Aaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks: .300/.360/.512, 11 home runs, 38 RBI in 283 at-bats. WAR: 2.2.
>>> Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves: .292/.375/.455, 6 home runs, 29 RBI in 154 at-bats. WAR: 1.6.
>>> Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals: .274/.348/.471, 8 home runs, 22 RBI in 223 at-bats. WAR: 1.4.
One game ultimately won’t make a difference but, on Sunday, three of the five finalists were on the same field. Bourn horribly misplayed a single hit to him by Rick Ankiel that allowed him to reach third base and Ian Desmond to score from first. Bourn also finished 0 for 5, striking out three times. Jones played well, going 1 for 3 and driving in his 29th run on a double to right field in the third inning. He even made a nice grab in foul territory of Harper’s pop up, along the third base railing.
Harper, on the other hand, has tailed off after his strong start to the season. After hitting .302 through his first 42 games, he has hit only .203 (13 for 64) with one home run and three RBI since, including 1 for 4 on Sunday. His manager and teammates, obviously, felt that despite his youth he has shown plenty to the rest of baseball.
“Nineteen years old, that says it all,” all-star pitcher Gio Gonzalez said. “He’s just an unbelievable player, an unbelievable athlete. Goes out there and works really hard every day. He wants to be the best every day. And you can deeply appreciate that when he’s right behind you and playing his best.”
FROM THE POST
Gonzalez, Desmond and Stephen Strasburg were named to the NL all-star team — the most ever for the Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman continues his offensive tear thanks to a miraculous cortisone shot eight days ago, including in a 8-4 win over the Braves
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Norfolk 3, Syracuse 2: John Lannan (6-7, 4.42 ERA) allowed three runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings and was saddled with the loss.
Harrisburg 3, Erie 1: Henry Rodriguez made his seven rehab appearance, third with the Senators, and pitched another scoreless inning. He struck out and walked none.
Carolina 8, Potomac 3: After three scoreless innings in his rehab, Cole Kimball has allowed six hits and four earned runs over his last two appearances, including two hits and three unearned runs in 2/3 of an inning on Sunday.
Hagerstown 11, Lakewood 9: Third baseman Justin Miller went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBI.
Jamestown 7, Auburn 1: Left fielder Jordan Poole went 2 for 4 and center fielder Wes Schill drove in the lone run.