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:
YEAR 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.