Is Bryce Harper “The Kid” 2.0?

Ken Griffey, Jr., Cincinnati Reds, 2004, by Ri...

It’s no secret that Bryce Harper is heating up approaching the final series in the 2012 MLB season. Just in time for the post season, Harper has propelled his game to the next level, doing things that analysts said he would do, only taking them further. I’m trying not to sound like that much of a homer about Bryce Harper but it’s hard not to. DC certainly has never seen someone like this, besides the likes of when Alexander Ovechkin stepped skate onto the Verizon Center ice. But its even bigger than that. Never in the history of the MLB has there been a teenage player with such a spotlight as well as so much promise. Can you guess who was the last teenager to make such an impact at the same position Harper is currently playing? If you guessed Ken Griffey Jr. you’re correct! Ken Griffey Jr. came into the Bigs with the same bravado that has followed Harper all the way to the show, and throughout his career, Griffey delivered. Just how similar are Griffey and Harper? Let’s dive into the statistics to take a closer examination.

In Ken Griffey Jr.’s first year at the tender age of 19, here’s the number he put up: 127 games played, 455 At- Bats, 61 runs scored, 120 hits, 23 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 16 SB, 44 BB, 83 SO, .264 BA, .329 OBP, .420 SLG, and .748 OPS.

These numbers are ridiculous for a 19 year-old. The statistics that really

English: Ken Griffey Jr playing right field fo...

signify how well a given player actually did during the season is batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Griffey’s batting average is, well, average, for an MLB player; but for a 19-year-old, its tremendous. His slugging percentage however, is what separates his performance in his teenage campaign from good, to great. According to baseball-reference.com, Ken Griffey Jr. ranks 31st on the All-Time Batters List. Now that we have Griffey’s numbers in his rookie season, let’s compare those to that of Bryce Harper’s first year.

Bryce Harper’s rookie season has been tremendous, dare I say, under rated? I’ll say it!! Why is it under rated? I’ll let these statistics do the talking. 133 games played, 516 at bats, 94 runs, 136 H, 23 2B, 9 3B, 21 HR, 58 RBI, 17 SB, 54 BB, 119 SO, .264 BA, .334 OBP, .465 SLG, and a .799 OPS.

Bryce Harper

Impressed yet? You should be. Seeing these statistics head to head compared to “The Kid” shows that Bryce Harper is having a better season than anticipated. But before I go any further, let me make this clear; I know that Harper has played 6 more games than Griffey so far and that can possibly skew the data, but nonetheless, let’s continue. Harper has had 16 more hits than Griffey, 5 more home runs, 1 more stolen base, 10 more walks, .5 greater OBP, .25 greater SLG, 9 more 3B, and a .51 greater OPS! That’s all great, but what really caught my eye when I was doing some digging, was the categories in which both of them were tied: Batting average – .264 and 2B – 23.

What kind of conclusion can we come to from this data? That Harper is having the best teenage season in the history of the MLB, that’s the conclusion. I feel like we as sports fans, tend to down play how good a performance is from someone when we don’t exactly know the history behind it. This is the perfect example. Since there haven’t been too many teenage prodigies playing in the MLB, it is hard for sports fans to realize just how good of a season Harper is having compared to others than have walked in his exact shoes before him. Another reason why I believe people aren’t so quick to give Harper the credit he deserves is because of Harper’s personality. Unlike Griffey Jr. Harper was booed right from the get go on his first major league at-bat!

Whatever the case may be, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Bryce Harper is having one of the greatest teenage seasons in the history of the major leagues! But the real question remains, can he keep this going? This is where I found just how good Griffey Jr. was. Check out his statistics in his second year in the Bigs: 155 GP, 597 at bats, 91 R, 179 H, 28 2B, 7 3B, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 16 SB, 63 BB, .300 BA, .366 OBP, .481 SLG, and a .847 OPS. The Kid’s improvement from year one to year two is impressive to say the least. He hit for .300, smacked 20 HRS, and brought his slugging percentage to .481. Numbers that were sure to make him an all – star, and American League MVP Candidate (In his first 11 years he played for the Mariners).

Wait a second, doesn’t Griffey Jr.’s second year numbers look a bit familiar?

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 05:  Mike Trout #27, Howard ...

Oh that’s right, it’s because they are almost identical to Bryce Harper’s first year numbers! Saying that, it begs the question, how good could Bryce Harper be in his second year? The second year proved to be one to remember for that one guy Mike Trout? Let’s take a look at Mike Trout’s 19-year-old numbers: 40 GP, 123 AB, 20 R, 27 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 9 BB, 30 SO, .220 BA, .281 OBP, .390 SLG, and a .672 OPS. For some bizarre reason, everyone seems to forget that Trout already made his splash on the MLB when he was 19, so why don’t people talk about it? Because he was a flop that’s why! I know this has no beef whatsoever now that Trout is putting up Hall of Fame numbers but its worth saying because nobody is giving Harper the credit he deserves. He’s doing things at age 19 that Trout never did! Even though Harper has done all of this, why are people so quick to down play how much better Bryce Harper can get? If Griffey Jr. batted for .300 in his second year, why can’t Harper? Why can’t Bryce be the 2013 version of Mike Trout, or even better? The answer: HE CAN! But only time will tell. How many people thought Trout would be where he is right now a year ago? I could probably count them on one hand. Yet because of the early success that Harper is having, too many people are quick to shoot down the notion that Harper could have a better year next year than Mike Trout. Like I said earlier, time will tell. But for the time being? Harper looks like he’s on a pretty dang good path.

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