The 2018 season is an important one for Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Not only is he hoping to play in October for the third consecutive year (and maybe, you know, win a postseason series), but he’s also preparing for a trip into free agency shortly after his 26th birthday.
Harper earned his fourth consecutive (sixth overall) All-Star appearance this year, but he could’ve very easily not been selected based off his stats. While he did slug 23 homers, the outfielder entered the break with a lackluster .214/.365/.468 triple slash.
That’s not a typical line for a big-league All-Star. Or for Harper.
Now with 25 dingers, the newly-minted Home Run Derby champion entered Thursday’s games with a share of the homer lead with Jesus Aguilar, Matt Carpenter, and Nolan Arenado. However, he’s still sporting a somewhat disappointing .216/.363/.475 triple slash.
His extraordinarily high on-base percentage despite a low batting average should catch your eye, though. As it turns out, Harper is currently in some rare company, according to Baseball Reference.
Although Harper’s 25.5% strikeout rate is currently the highest it’s been since 2014 (26.3%), his 18.5% walk rate rivals what he did during that MVP campaign of 2015 (19.0%). This is what’s propping up the OBP, and his 28.5% chase rate is a small improvement from last season’s 30.1% mark.
One has to think his BABIP is due for positive regression moving forward, too. That number is down at .229 (.356 in ’17) despite a 39.5% ground-ball rate, 10.3% soft-hit rate, and 41.0% hard-hit rate — all of which are either on pace to be career-high marks or are close to it.
His 120 wRC+ prior to Thursday’s game against the Miami Marlins is also pretty dang good. After all, it’s near the same level of overall offensive production as guys like Ozzie Albies (123) and Miguel Andujar (123), while being better than Edwin Encarnacion (115), Didi Gregorius (111), and Matt Olson (115).
Harper’s season at the plate hasn’t gone how he’s hoped so far, but he’s at least still finding ways to bring value to the Nats’ offense.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.