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I think it's fair to say Bryce Harper is out to prove something this season. At least, he's certainly playing that way. Two years ago, of course, he was the best hitter in all of baseball and looked like the best hitter since Barry Bonds retired. At the time, it seemed like that was going to be the first great year in what would be a legendary career. He was, after all, just 22 years old at the time. Then, he came out last year and was disappointing by his standards. Mind, he was still a very good hitter, but it was a dramatic step backwards off his legendary pace he set for himself in 2015. In 2017, Harper's age-24 season, he is looking to get back on the path he made in 2015.
Early on in the season, he is well on his way. Through his first 16 games, in 73 plate appearances, he is hitting a ridiculous .407/.521/.864 and has been the best hitter in all of baseball. After hitting another home run last night, Harper is up to seven on the year. That is roughly a 70-home run pace over a full season, and he's also on pace to tally 200 RBI. He almost certainly isn't going to keep it up to this extent, but we've seen him tear through the league before and he's on his way to doing so again.
It's definitely too early to talk about awards season, but if anyone is a favorite for any hardware at this point it's Harper for National League MVP. He was among the favorites before the season even started and he's done nothing to change people's minds to this point. When he is hitting like this, he is arguably the most exciting player in the sport. No, he's not Mike Trout, who remains and will remain the best player in baseball for the foreseeable future, but Harper is a must-watch at bat. After being merely good a year ago, it's nice to have this version of Harper back in our lives.
- Who are the most important players in the American League East?
- Kevin Kiermaier is ridiculous.
- Madison Bumgarner rode a dirt bike on his day off. While dirt bikes are fun, they can also be dangerous. He's going to miss a couple months.
- The most popular jerseys in MLB were released yesterday, and to no one's surprise the list was littered with Cubs.
- Francisco Lindor was also among those jerseys, and he also had a chance to make a boatload of guaranteed money but turned it down.
- Andrew Benintendi isn't yet on that list, but he's already a ridiculously good hitter. He's also got some amazing hair.
- Speaking of exciting young players, Aaron Judge is the large adult son we all want.
- Luis Robert is the next big thing to come out of Cuba, and he could make sense for the White Sox.