Being selected to the All-Star Game is an honor, regardless how a player gets there.
Bryce Harper wasn’t voted in as a starter or selected as a reserve by his peers or the manager of the National League All-Star team, Tony LaRussa. He will, however, have a shot to participate in the Midsummer Classic thanks to the All-Star Game Final Vote.
The Nationals’ 19-year-old outfielder is up against Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, David Freese and Aaron Hill for the final spot on the NL roster. Fans can vote here up until 4 p.m., Thursday to determine who earns that spot.
Should Harper make the All-Star team, it would be a massive accomplishment, given his age and limited time in the big leagues. It’s not often you see a teenager compete at his sport’s showcase event alongside the best players in the world, and it would be fun to watch Harper soak in the All-Star experience with the three other Nationals representatives (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Ian Desmond) by his side.
But is it in Harper’s best interest to play in the Midsummer Classic? His manager isn’t so sure.
Davey Johnson told reporters the other day that he hopes Harper actually doesn’t win the Final Vote and instead gets to use the All-Star break to rest up and relax.
Since making his major league debut on April 28, Harper has played nearly every single inning of every Nats game. He’s only been absent from Johnson’s starting lineup once (he started a game against the Red Sox on the bench due to back tightness and pinch hit in the ninth inning) and has only twice been removed from a game in the late innings with the Nationals holding a comfortable lead.
Harper’s battled that tight back for over a month now, and still receives treatment on it from the training staff. Between the lines, he plays the game harder and with more intensity than nearly anyone else out there, diving headfirst into bases and flopping around in the outfield in an attempt to make incredibly difficult plays.
That style of play will catch up to you over the course of a lengthy season, even when you’re got the youthful energy of a 19-year-old.
Harper has acknowledged that while it’d be an honor to make the All-Star team, he also might enjoy some time away. These last couple months have surely been a whirlwind for the rookie, and it might not hurt for him to spend some time with his family and recharge his batteries a bit before the Nationals begin their push for the postseason.
It’ll be up to the fans, however, to decide whether Harper ends up going to Kansas City for the All-Star festivities or not.
My question to you is this: do you want to see Harper take part in the Midsummer Classic next week, or would you prefer he not make the All-Star team and get a chance to rest? Would you rather see the dazzling rookie square off against the best in the game or get some time off to gear up for the final few months of the season?
Update: Major League Baseball has released an update on where the voting stands, and Harper currently ranks third behind Jones and Freese.