Last night Bryce Harper launched a mammoth home run and then gave the leader in the clubhouse for best quote of the season, and he’s already followed that up by hitting a double this afternoon against the Blue Jays.
Midway through his 41st career game Harper is now hitting .309 with a .391 on-base percentage and .559 slugging percentage, which is good for a .950 OPS that would be the highest for a 19-year-old in baseball history.
Here’s the all-time leaderboard among 19-year-olds with at least 200 plate appearances:
Mel Ott 1928 .921
Tony Conigliaro 1964 .883
Mickey Mantle 1951 .792
Cesar Cedeno 1970 .790
Freddie Lindstrom 1925 .761
Edgar Renteria 1996 .757
Ty Cobb 1906 .749
Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 .748
That’s quite a list.
He’ll inevitably go through a rough patch at some point and may come back down to earth a bit in general, but so far Harper has shown no signs of slowing down and in fact has hit .370 in his last 100 trips to the plate.
Right now it’s not a stretch to say that Harper is the best 19-year-old hitter of all time.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.