It’s just been two games.
Say it with me: It’s just been two games.
There’s no reason to read too much into Bryce Harper’s first eight major league plate appearances or his first 17 innings in the Nationals outfield. He’ll have plenty more opportunities to show his stuff in the big leagues in the coming days/weeks/years and there are certainly no guarantees that he won’t be back playing at Triple-A Syracuse again sometime in the near future.
But when we examine Harper’s contributions since getting called up to the majors Saturday, two games are all we have to look at. And so far, the 19-year-old has shown no signs of being outmatched or overwhelmed.
The numbers sure look good. Harper has gone 2-for-6 with a double, an RBI, a strikeout and a walk thus far in his Nationals tenure. Defensively, he’s recorded five putouts split between left field and center (one of them a leaping grab up against the Dodger Stadium wall) and nearly recorded his first outfield assist on a rocket of a throw to the plate from left field Saturday night.
But when you look beyond the numbers, Harper has been equally as impressive.
The big stage and bright lights of the majors didn’t appear to faze Harper in the slightest, and he even said after making his major league debut on Saturday that he found himself surprisingly at ease while in the moment.
He’s been patient at the plate (often an issue with players making their big league debuts), seeing an average of 4.1 pitches per at-bat, yet was aggressive when he needed to be in his final time to the plate Saturday, smacking a first-pitch fastball out to left to bring in the then go-ahead run from third on a sacrifice fly.
Even though he admitted he had the thoughts of a game-tying two-run jack on his mind when he strode to the plate in the ninth inning yesterday, Harper showed no signs of being too jumpy. He took cutter after cutter out of the zone from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and eventually drew a walk, bringing the possible go-ahead run to the plate.
He’s hustled on every single play - including the simple slow grounder back to the mound that kicked off his major league career - and has looked plenty comfortable in the outfield, even after being told just prior to first pitch yesterday that he’d be moving from left field to center because of a late lineup change.
The Nats might have had intentions of sending Harper back down to Triple-A once Ryan Zimmerman returns from the disabled list. General manager Mike Rizzo says he’s committed to the developmental plan the organization has in place for Harper, and that could very well include more time in the minors when the Nationals get some of their injured veterans back.
It’s still incredibly early; again, Harper has played just two games. But from the small sample size we saw out in L.A., the youngster sure looks like a major leaguer so far.