According to agent Scott Boras, Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper played through an “issue” last season, causing his disappointing performance at the plate.
Bryce Harper is one of the best young superstars in all of baseball. The former first overall pick in the 2013 draft had a terrific year in 2015 that led him to win the National League Most Valuable Player award. The following season was not as friendly to Harper, who struggled according to his standards all season.
According to Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, Harper played through “an issue” last season. Per Federal Baseball’s Patrick Reddington, Boras went on to say, “I think Harp had an issue that he played through with, that he battled with – that was certainly uncomfortable but still allowed him to play.”
Boras also goes on to say that other factors contributed to a disappointing season for Harper, like a lack of adjustments as a young hitter. He said that Harper has some of the most power he has ever seen out of a young hitter. While an issue has now been cited for Harper’s 2016 season, we cannot blame the disappointment of a season on the “issue.” If the “issue” was the sole reason for Harper’s struggles, we should expect a huge bounce back from the young star in 2017.
Harper, 23, still had a pretty good year to some standards in 2016, but in no way did it compare to his 2015 season. In 627 plate appearances, Harper hit 24 home runs an drove in 86 RBI, and also added 21 stolen bases. The disappointment was in his batting average, which sat at .241 at season’s end. Harper hit .330 the season before, marking almost a 100-point difference between the two seasons. His 116 OPS+ was actually the second highest of his career last season, after a 198 mark in 2015.
The issue with last year for Harper was the expectations he set for himself following the 2015 season. After hitting .330, it is not unusual to see a player’s batting average drop by almost 100 points. Harper hit for a lot less power as well, down 18 home runs from 2015.
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All Nationals fans will agree, but Bryce Harper has some big shoes to fill in the 2017 season. After a tough Game 5 loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team will rely on Harper to get them further this year. The Nationals will not be more successful in 2017 unless they can get the production that Harper put together in the 2015 season. 2017 will prove to all baseball fans whether the 2015 performance of Harper was a fluke, or if it is something that we can expect every year. It would be an understatement to say that 2017 is the most important season of Harper’s career so far.