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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.