What could Bryce Harper do in his second season?

brushbackIf we know anything about Bryce Harper by now, it’s that he dreams big, wants unequivocally to be the best and knows only one speed: full throttle. So even though he won’t yet publicly share his personal goals for this season — and why should he and be held to those numbers? — it’s not hard to imagine that they could be.

Aside from a World Series ring, Harper’s personal goals are likely his 2012 numbers but more. Way more. He’s an astute observer of baseball and is surely aware of the jumps Mike Trout and Alex Rodriguez made in their year-20 seasons from the previous seasons and thinks he, too, can do the same.

Harper has a lot working in his favor: he’s young (20), growing (6-3, 230 pounds), incredibly driven (watch him take an extra base) and has already shown an ability to adjust (look at his entire career). When he struggled through a vicious slump through last summer after a strong start, he adjusted again and finished the regular season on a tear that likely secured the National League rookie of the year trophy.

By examining the list of past rookie of the year award winners, there’s further proof the future looks incredibly bright for Harper. The jump from being the league’s best rookie to a most valuable player is common in recent history.

Since 1990, four players who won the NL rookie of the year award won the league’s most valuable player award a few years later. Albert Pujols was the league’s best rookie in 2001 and won the first of his three MVP awards in 2005. Ryan Braun, the 2007 NL rookie of the year, won the MVP four years later in 2011.

Ryan Howard won the NL MVP in 2006, the year after being the best rookie. Buster Posey was the top NL rookie in 2010 and league MVP this winter, two years later. In the AL, Dustin Pedroia pulled off the same feat as Howard: winning the rookie of the year award in 2007 and the MVP the following season in Boston.

Part of Harper’s potential struggle in his sophomore season could be too much success the previous year. If his improvements are small, he would still be progressing as a player but it wouldn’t be in the leaps and bounds that Rodriguez and Trout made in their age-20 seasons. It a fool’s errand and impossible to predict what Harper could accomplish in his encore performance but history shows it could likely be better.

Here are two of the best examples of the improvement from the age-19 season to the age-20 season in the post-strike era:

Alex Rodriguez’s age-19 season (1995): .232/.264/.408; .672 OPS; 72 OPS+; 5 HRs; 19 RBI; 15 runs; 4 SBs; 149 plate appearances

Alex Rodriguez’s age-20 season (1996): .358/.414/.631; 1.045 OPS; 161 OPS+; 36 HRs; 123 RBI; 141 runs; 15 SBs; 677 plate appearances (second in MVP voting)

Mike Trout’s age-19 season (2011): .220/.281/.390; .672 OPS; 89 OPS+; 5 HRs; 16 RBI; 20 runs; 4 SBs; 135 plate appearances

Mike Trout’s age-20 season (2012): .326/.399/.564; .963 OPS; 171 OPS+; 30 HRs; 83 RBI; 129 runs; 49 SBs; 639 plate appearances (AL Rookie of the Year; second in MVP voting)

Bryce Harpers’s age-19 season (2012): .270/.340/.477; .817 OPS; 119 OPS+; 22 HRs; 59 RBI; 98 runs; 18 SBs; 597 plate appearances

Bryce Harper’s age-20 season (2013): ?

 

FROM THE POST

Bryce Harper is bulked up and ready to resume living his dream with the Nationals. A look at his offseason, how he got stronger and some of his goals for this season.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Report: Gio Gonzalez didn’t receive banned substances from Biogenesis

Ryan Zimmerman will DH to start the spring, and other notes

Anthony Rendon, Lucas Giolito, Brian Goodwin make Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list

Ross Detwiler will pitch in the World Baseball Classic

How should the Nationals use Christian Garcia?

 

DAYS BEFORE OPENING DAY

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