Bryce Harper has his eye on joining the annual Best Shape Of His Life list, telling Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he plans to lift tons of weights this offseason and get “as big as a house” by the time spring training rolls around.
Harper also told Kilgore that the nagging knee and hip injuries he dealt with for much of the season won’t require surgery and “it’s more trying to take the time off and let everything settle down.”
Harper got off to an incredible start to his sophomore season at age 20, hitting .373 with nine homers through 23 games, but then he started crashing into walls and playing through injuries and ended up hitting just .249 with 11 homers in his final 95 games. Or as Harper put it: “Body-wise, I felt pretty good except for when I did run into the walls.”
Overall he still finished with a strong .854 OPS, which was a 37-point increase from his rookie season, and Best Shape Of His Life or not a healthy Harper should have a huge 2014.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: