Thursday, May 3, 2012

What To Do With Bryce Harper?

Bryce Harper, above, should stay in the majors. (Photo: usatoday.net)
Ever since he was called up to the major leagues one week ago, Bryce Harper has been the Washington Nationals best player...by far.

Now the question becomes, however, is who will get sent down once Ryan Zimmerman is healthy. Keep in mind, the only reason Harper is in the major leagues is because Zimmerman can't be. Zimmerman is expected to return to the Nationals as early as this weekend.

So now the decision that is in front of Davey Johnson and Co. is whether to keep Bryce Harper on the big league roster or send him back down to AAA Syracuse.

The answer is simple: Harper HAS to stay in the majors. Reason number one: he is, and deservedly so, the number three hitter in the line-up.

Hands down, he has been the Nationals best player since his arrival a week ago. He's batting .375 with an on base percentage of .389. He has four doubles on six hits with three RBI. He's even scored two runs himself. He's drawn a walk and has struckout just twice.

But, it's more than just the stats that make Harper so good and so valuable. It's his effort, hustle, and enthusiasm for the game that is contagious and will spread throughout the entire locker room.

Just last night in game three against the Diamondbacks, he hit a slow roller right up the middle in his first at bat. He rocketed out of the batters box and down the first base line to try to beat the throw. D-Backs pitcher Ian Kennedy saw Harper hustling and ended up throwing the shoulda-been out over the head of the first baseman.

Harper would advance to second on the error, but, would eventually be called out because he apparently, and he did, did not touch first base when he rounded for second.

Harper has the ability to stretch a long base hit into a double. Every time he leaves the batters box he's thinking about whether or not he could turn and head for second.

Then you have to turn to his play in the outfield. He has a perfect fielding percentage and has not committed a single error yet. He's got a cannon that rivals that of Rick Ankiel and can get the ball from deep left field to home on a line without a single bounce.

His maturity level has gotten considerably better since he blew a kiss at an opposing minor league pitcher last year. He has stopped talking and instead is letting his play do all the talking. He shows up to the ballpark with the attitude that more big league players should have. He shows up and you can tell that he has realized his dream and you can't help but get inspired by his enthusiasm.

So who could the Nationals send down instead? Tyler Moore was called up a day after Harper was. He hasn't played very much and was called up to sit on the bench. Xavier Nady could be sent down, as well. He's been quiet as of late and was primarily a pinch hitter when he did make an appearance.

Harper is the most valuable player, next to Strasburg and Zimmerman, that the Washington Nationals have. He's productive, enthusiastic, and consistent defensively. It would be a HUGE mistake to send Bryce Harper back to the minor leagues.