Clippard and Williams praise Harper's growth, performance

SAN FRANCISCO - Hear Bryce Harper's name and you probably think of a guy who's been around the league for a while. He's been talked about by national writers for several years and compared to many past and present greats.

Heck, he's even been edited into a commercial with footage of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.

However, what some may forget is that Harper is still young. Despite spending almost three full seasons in the majors, Harper is still nine days shy of 22. Not too shabby for someone with two postseason trips under his belt.

"He's grown a lot," Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said before Game 4 of the National League Division Series. "Yeah, Bryce, obviously everyone knows the tools Bryce has."

In Game 3 of the NLDS, Harper was a huge part of the Nationals' success, helping lead the Nats to a 4-1 win and cutting the Giants' lead in the best-of-five series to two games to one.

He went 1-for-3, scoring two runs, driving in a run, drawing a walk and smacking a huge home run.

"For me, the most important thing for Bryce is his patience," manager Matt Williams said before Game 4. "And yesterday, facing (Madison) Bumgarner, he was patient and drew a walk. He hit a really hard ball up the middle that got a piece of Madison that they caught, but good approach, and he did everything he could possible do to get a base hit in that regard.

"He ran the bases well. He played good defense. All of those things combined just proves what kind of talent he's got."

Bryce-Harper-red-pumped.jpgHarper also had a few huge catches, including a grab against the wall in the second inning with one out and two men on, all while battling the harsh San Francisco sun.

"Bryce has grown as a person, which has helped him know how to communicate with his teammates and be that guy that we saw yesterday on the field making those big defensive plays, knowing where to go with the ball after he catches it, throwing to the right bases, doing the little things," Clippard said.

All in all, a big reason that the Nats have lived to see another day is their 21-year-old left fielder.

"You know, when he puts it all together, he's special, and I think everybody can see that," Clippard said. "But yeah, we're happy he's on our team."

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