Bryce Harper has recovered from the first extended slump of his career by going 14-for-35 (.400) with five homers in his last nine games, so it seems like a good time to check back in on how he compares to the best 19-year-olds in baseball history.
First up, OPS:
Mel Ott 1928 .921
Tony Conigliaro 1964 .883
Mickey Mantle 1951 .792
Cesar Cedeno 1970 .790
BRYCE HARPER 2012 .783
Freddie Lindstrom 1925 .761
Edgar Renteria 1996 .757
Ty Cobb 1906 .749
Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 .748
Buddy Lewis 1936 .746
You know you’re doing some pretty big things when you’re looking down on Ken Griffey Jr. and Ty Cobb while being one good week from moving past Mickey Mantle.
Harper has scored 79 runs, which is the second-most ever by a 19-year-old behind only Buddy Lewis with 100 in 1936. He also ranks third among all 19-year-olds in homers with 17, extra-base hits with 44, walks with 47, and Isolated Power at .192.
And last but not least: Mel Ott in 1928 is the only 19-year-old in the history of baseball with more plate appearances and a higher OPS than Harper has right now. Toss in his defense and “ferocious baserunning” and Harper is also tied with Ott for the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total ever for a 19-year-old position player at 3.7.
I feel sorry for all the people who decided to immediately hate Bryce Harper forever, because they’re missing one helluva player.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.