We’ve already discussed how Bryce Harper is making a mockery of the Sally League.
The Washington Nationals phenom has a 15-game hitting streak at the moment and is tearing the cover off the ball with a .396/.472/.712 line. It’s impressive for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old playing full-season A-ball for the first time.
But Mark Zuckerman at CSNWashington has a theory on why Harper took off after a mediocre start to his professional career: He’s been prescribed contact lenses to sharpen his vision, and is doing eye exercises to “strengthen his eye muscles and allow him to process what he sees much quicker than before.”
Since meeting with Smithson for the first time late last month, Harper has gone on a tear at low-Class A Hagerstown. After a 4-for-5 performance Wednesday night that included his first career grand slam, he’s now riding a 15-game hitting streak, having posted a .492 average, five homers and 16 RBIs during that stretch.
In the span of three weeks, Harper has turned a pedestrian start to his pro career into a full-fledged phenomenon.
I wouldn’t give too much credit to this for Harper’s gaudy numbers, and Zuckerman even writes that “no one ever doubted last summer’s No. 1 draft pick would dominate this low level of the minors. His skills and motivation were off the charts, and he’d never not dominated any league in which he played.”
On the other hand, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. Edgar Martinez, a career .312 hitter, did eye exercises every day to combat a disorder that affected his ability to focus.
Whatever the reason for Harper’s success, he doesn’t seem destined to remain in A-ball much longer, no matter how much the Nationals want to take it slow.
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Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.
After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.
What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:
Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.
A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?
Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.
Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.
If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.