Bryce Isn’t in the Top 100. Yet.
Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of Bryce Harper. I’ve been following Bryce ever since The Harpers threatened to sue his local school district because they felt that the intentional walks he was drawing from opposing teams were stunting his development as a player.
I think that Bryce is great for baseball and, despite mostly underachieving thus far in his career, he’s nevertheless considered to be among the most dominant position players of today’s generation. However, recently ESPN went overboard by ranking Bryce Harper as the 85th best player of all-time – an honor that is so obviously rooted in potential than actual production. Regardless of how much I love Bryce, he hasn’t done enough to warrant being placed on anybody’s all-time list yet. Here’s why:
- He has zero 100 RBI seasons – for all the power that Bryce offers, he has yet to drive in 100 runs over the course of a season.
- His 2015 breakout is still just one year – yes, he had a breakout year of historic proportions, but there are many players who’ve delivered breakout performances. Bob Horner once homered four times in a game, ya know. Who is Bob Horner, you ask? Well, that’s my point exactly. For the record, he’s a former number one overall draft pick that hit 30+ home runs more times during his first four MLB seasons than Bryce has thus far. If Bob Horner isn’t on ESPN’s list, then Bryce shouldn’t be there either.
- He still isn’t a 30-30 club member – though Bryce offers an impressive power-speed combination, he hasn’t even teased us yet with a legit run at 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
- He isn’t a perennial . 300 hitter – unlike many Hall of Fame quality players, Bryce has yet to show that his batting average will be above or near .300 every season regardless of the degree to which he’s pitched carefully.
- His insignificant status on the all-time HR list – as of this moment, Bryce is tied for the 688th ranking on MLB’s career home runs list. Come talk to me when Bryce reaches 400 dingers.
- He hasn’t made enough midsummer classics – how many all-star games has Bryce been selected to? I certainly hope that the standards for legendary status in MLB folklore have not been reduced to players making less than a handful of all-star games.
- He’s accomplished nothing in the post-season – in team sports, I’ve always felt that it’s silly to define individual players based on rings and championships. However, I believe that an all-time great should at least have carried his team through a deep playoff run (something that Bryce has yet to do).
- He hasn’t reached any major career milestones – in order for a player to be considered an all-time great in my opinion, their career must show evidence of their having achieved certain career milestones such as 2000-3000+ hits or 1000+ RBI. Bryce hasn’t even been in the league long enough to have built a career that includes anything near those milestones.
- He’s still not even the best hitter in Washington baseball history – if Bryce were to retire today, then he cannot even be considered among the all-time greatest players that Washington, D.C. has ever seen. Goose Goslin was nowhere to be found among ESPN’s Top 100 despite being a Hall Of Famer with a .316 career batting average and career totals of 2735 hits, 1612 RBI, and 248 home runs. Moreover, Senators folklore is riddled with tales of Frank “Hondo” Howard, still the most prolific power hitter to ever wear a Washington uniform. Hondo was a more productive hitter during his four all-star seasons with the Senators (1968-1971) than Bam Bam has been with the Nationals thus far. Hondo’s career resume also boasts 382 home runs and 1119 RBI.
- He hasn’t produced with much consistency – growing up during the Cal Ripken generation taught me the importance of showing up every day. Perhaps I was spoiled by The Streak, but I expect superstars to be on the field regularly until Father Time hinders their ability to do so. As a Bryce fan, I would like to see him stay healthy enough each year to realize his full potential; not continue to underachieve because his reckless style puts him at risk of missing 30+ games each year.