Bryce Harper is hitting .355 with a 1.153 OPS at Single-A

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Bryce Harper is on fire at low Single-A, going 15-for-33 (.455) with four homers and six doubles in his last 10 games.

Harper is hitting .355 with a .456 on-base percentage and .697 slugging percentage in 23 games overall, including six homers and eight doubles in 76 at-bats and a 20/18 K/BB ratio. He’s even swiped four bases in six attempts.

Obviously knocking around low Single-A pitching doesn’t guarantee future success for Harper, but the fact that the former No. 1 overall pick is thriving as an 18-year-old in a league where the average player is 22 should be awfully encouraging for the Nationals.

Thoughts of Harper making it all the way to the majors in his first professional season are misguided, but at this rate advancing to Double-A before his 19th birthday is very possible.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.