“Bryce Harper is overrated” has always been a very silly stance to take and it looks particularly silly today because the 22-year-old Nationals right fielder has hit a home run in each of his first three at-bats against the Marlins.
Harper is now hitting .268 with .419 on-base percentage and .567 slugging percentage on the season, including seven home runs and a league-leading 26 walks. He won’t be 23 years old until mid-October and is currently the fourth-youngest player in the National League.
He’s also the third-youngest player in National League history to hit three home runs in a game–trailing only Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Mel Ott–and the youngest player in either league to homer three times in a game since 1969.
And here’s a list of all the players since 1985 with at least 1,500 plate appearances and an adjusted OPS+ of at least 120 through age 22:
Ken Griffey Jr.
UPDATE: Harper failed to homer in his fourth at-bat, settling for an RBI ground out. What a bum.
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José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.