Harper May Just be that Strong

The homerun Harper hit in the fourth inning was a no doubter, but when I saw the ball make contact with the bat I didn't think it was going to go anywhere. Watch the replay. Watch it in slow motion. Harper got under that one. Normally when a batter gets under a ball it may carry to the warning track but it is normally a harmless fly ball and not an upper deck no doubt homerun that exits the ballpark faster than a speeding bullet or 106.1 MPH off the bat.

Harper's big homer traveled an estimated 420 feet and is his furthest of the season. It is scary to watch the replay and keep seeing that he didn't get all of it. The ball hit the sweet spot of the bat, but Harper was just a little under it, but this is how 40 homer seasons happen. If a batter has to make perfect contact to have a homerun then they aren't going to end up with as many homers as a batter that has more of a margin for error. Harper's bat speed, quick hands, and strength give him the margin for error needed to be one of the great sluggers of this generation.

All of this is known. Harper wouldn't have been regarded as, "Baseball's LeBron," or taken number one overall in the 2010 draft if he didn't have that type of ceiling. It is still impressive that at 20 years old Harper is strong enough to miss baseballs, even if it is by the tiniest of margins, and hit them not just over the wall, but into the upper deck. Even more impressive than Harper's homer was an out he made in his final at bat. You won't find a replay of Harper's seventh inning fly out to deep left field so here is what it looked like.

Leading off the top of the seventh against White Sox right hander, Nate Jones, Harper swung at an 0-1 pitch away. Off the bat it didn't sound nearly as good as Harper's fourth inning homer, but it was carrying and Adam Dunn was playing left field for the White Sox. At first it looked like it had a chance to fall in for a single, but then it just kept carrying. The ball finally landed in the glove of Adam Dunn all the way on the left field warning track, but Harper clearly hit this ball off the end of his bat and it carried all the way to the warning track away. That is how strong Harper is. He got under one baseball and sent it into the upper deck, and then later in the same game hit a ball off the end of his bat and sent it to the warning track the other way. Not very many major league baseball players have that kind of power. Even fewer have that kind of power at the age of 20.

This type of strength isn't just going to help Harper in hitting homers. Because the ball is moving faster off of Harper's bat he is going to have a higher than average BABIP. So far in his brief career Harper is slightly above average in BABIP at .314. That may or may not increase depending on how many of Harper's hits go for homers, but look at Harper's singles this season. Most of them have been rocket ground balls. If they were moving any less quickly a fielder may have had time to get to them, but they are moving so quickly that they are in the outfield before the infielders even have time to react.  

Watching Bryce Harper play baseball is a special joy Nats fans should relish in. Players that don't need to get all of a baseball to hit it 420 feet are rare and ones with the bat speed to miss a baseball and fly out deep the other way. Both of those hits are impressive for different reasons and so far this season Harper has been the rare must-see player. His at bats are events. Even when he makes an out it is exciting and he makes the defense get him out. Harper has yet to walk in the 2013 season but has only struck out six times in 33 at bats or a pace of 109 in 600 at bats. That may sound like a lot, but consider in this era most sluggers strikeout closer to 200 times than 100. Bryce Harper so far in 2013 has been a dangerous and powerful hitter, and it is simply due to the fact that he is that strong.

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