This is getting absolutely ridiculous.
Bryce Harper, who the Nationals are thought to be targeting with their No. 1 pick this June, hit for the cycle on Friday in the semifinals of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) World Series. On Saturday he outdid himself, finishing 6-for-6 with 10 RBI and four home runs as the College of Southern Nevada advanced to the NJCAA World Series final.
Harper, a 17-year-old catcher, continues to amaze at the plate and is one of the most intriguing position players to ever enter the MLB draft. Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post ran an excellent profile about the kid last weekend and the great Jim Callis of Baseball America is also buying into the hype.
The Nats haven’t made anything official, but it’s fairly safe to assume that they like Harper and will grab him first overall in next month’s first-year player draft. The only issue now is signability, because Harper is expected to demand a contract greater than the record-breaking $15.67 million deal that was struck with Stephen Strasburg last summer. Lofty expectations? Sure. But it’s probably worth noting that Harper’s contract discussions will be under the supervision of super-agent Scott Boras.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.