Monday, March 5, 2012

Monitoring Harper's defense

Associated Press photo
Bryce Harper tries to snag Brian Bixler's line drive during yesterday's game.
VIERA, Fla. -- As much attention as we all give to Bryce Harper's offensive exploits this spring -- hey, did we mention he went 1-for-2 yesterday and is now hitting .400 (2-for-5) in the Grapefruit League? -- just as crucial to the 19-year-old's chances of making the Nationals' roster is his defensive progress.

Harper has now appeared in right field three straight days (against Georgetown, twice against the Astros) and he's scheduled to be back out there tonight when the Nationals travel to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets.

So far, he hasn't had very many opportunities to make plays in the field. Nor has he had the opportunity to show off his arm (or, in other cases, show that he knows when it's appropriate not to show off his arm).

Harper's most notable chance to date came late during yesterday's game, when Houston utilityman Brian Bixler (remember him?) struck a ball down the right-field line in the top of the eighth, with the Astros ahead 10-2. Harper came charging hard, and though it appeared like he had no realistic shot at catching the ball, he still dove for it.

The ball wound up getting past Harper, and by the time he corralled it, Bixler had cruised into third base with a triple.

So ... wise move by Harper to make the diving attempt, or should he have simply backed off and tried to catch the ball on a hop, holding Bixler to a double?

Davey Johnson made his feelings on the matter clear.

"At that point, make a great play," Johnson said. "What the heck, we're eight runs down. If we're protecting a two-run lead, we'd play a little differently. I liked his hustle."

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

i like it. one more experience to build on. whether he caught it or not he's gonna get the feel for it the more he does it. not much to learn from laying back.

jeeves said...

I genuinely believe Harper will be a gold glover some day. The question is when. How quickly will he adapt? I think he's a fast study, so hopefully his rise to defensive asset instead of liability will be much sooner than later.

whatsanattau said...

The real test will come when he has an opportunity to not go for it. When he needs to play it safe will he? Until then, benefit of the doubt.

(Good Luck, John Lannan, force your way into the rotation)

Anonymous said...

He had a realistic chance. The ball hit his glove for goodness sake. He made the right play no doubt. And as FP said on the tube he fired a laser into second base on that play.

Doc said...

Darn tootin' the Oppo Boppo guy is a fast study, Jeeves. A catcher up until a year ago, now he's tracking down fly balls like a trooper.

Considering that the Shark still hasn't figured out how to go back on a ball in CF, Harper is a real-time whiz kid!!!!

Section 222 said...

I liked the hustle, and since he got his glove on it, it's pretty hard to say the dive was ill-advised. At least he didn't do a Werth-like slide.

Anonymous said...

(Good Luck, John Lannan, force your way into the rotation)

That's your guy Mark and HE IS THE one on thin ice. I expect we'll see him in Syracuse making 5 million. Can't see them getting much for him in trade and they need veteran depth in AAA.

Anonymous said...

How he should play this ball is a situational decision. If the ball was hit to right-center you make the attempt because you have CF backing you up. If it is 2 outs runner on 2nd or 3rd you make the attempt. If it is 1 out nobody on you keep the ball in front of you and catch it on the hop.

Or if it is ST, when the games don't count and you are trying to make the team you go with your instincts and learn from the experience.

natsfan1a said...

I'm kinda with Davey on this one, although I wouldn't particularly want one of our guys to get hurt by doing a face plant or running into a wall during an exhibition game. (Well, I wouldn't want them to get hurt any time, but you probably get my drift.)

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Nobody wants to see him get hurt, but nobody pays to see him play scared, or lazy, either. So there's that.


It was out of my reach! What do you want me to do, DIVE for it??

natsfan1a said...

One of my fave lines. :-)

HHover said...

Anon @ 12:34

You know, a Lannan-bashing comment from you without his pRAA #s is like a box of Cracker Jacks with no surprise inside.

Anonymous said...

His D is simply not as crucial as his O. He needs to not be terrible in RF, which is easy enough to do for a kid with his size and speed.

Now, if only Zuckerman would monitor Desmond's defense . . .

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:34

You know, a Lannan-bashing comment from you without his pRAA #s is like a box of Cracker Jacks with no surprise inside.


pRAA? Does that stand for periculum's Really An Asshat, perhaps?

Kirbs said...

When you don't play 100% you get hurt. Plus he is still making that switch from catching. In time he will learn when the ball must be caught and risk it getting to the wall or get it on the hop.

SayNoToClint said...

At least he didn't do any of that "ole b*llsh*t."


Sec 3, My Sofa said...
It was out of my reach! What do you want me to do, DIVE for it??

SonnyG10 said...

Unless I'm remembering wrong, the ball was hit way to his left side (towards the line). There was no chance to catch it on the hop. If he doesn't dive the ball is by him anyway.

N. Cognito said...

Does anyone here know why Mark hates all the players he refused to mention in this thread?

natsfan1a said...

I'm not sure, N. Cog, but clearly Bixler *is* Mark's guy because he went out of his way to mention him. ;-)

natsfan1a said...

Oh, come on - cut the rah rah [stuff], SayNo. ;-)

SayNoToClint said...

At least he didn't do any of that "ole b*llsh*t."

Anonymous said...

Season tickets scheduled to begin shipping Friday via UPS.

baseballswami said...

When is Jordan pitching?

DaveB said...

The picture accompanying the story completely contradicts the line in the article saying he had no realistic chance to catch it. He got his glove on it! Anytime you get a glove on it you have a realistic chance to catch it. The dive was a bit awkward, a more flat-out dive (like a more experienced outfielder might make) would have been enough to catch it. I didn't have a problem with the attempt, he's learning.

Anonymous said...

baseballswami said...
When is Jordan pitching?

You're the swami... shouldn't you know?

Anonymous said...

to SonnyG10-

if he takes a different line on it he can make the catch off the hop. With the line he took his only options were to dive, or keep on his feet and chase it, but that still would have held Bixler to a double.

Anonymous said...

pRAA? Does that stand for periculum's Really An Asshat, perhaps?

I should make a new stat called pONIAH's. People on Nats Insider Are Hypocrites. A bunch of whiners and moaners who moan about anonymous posters saying this or that and then look what they do? Shows some real maturity and the sad thing is this is probably someone who is as old as dirt. ~smiles~

And you wonder why I love to "flame on" as Johnny Storm would say. Too may here definitely deserve it ... ~laughing~

Bozo said...

How did we let that Bixler get by us?

Anonymous said...

How did we let that Bixler get by us?

The Nats horn of plenty is a cornucopia of MI at this point. Starts with Espinosa and Desmond, leads off into Lombardozzi, Rendon, Kobernus, and Hague. Lots and lots of MI who need to be evaluated to see if they can produce on offense while fielding their position.

baseballswami said...

Kind of hoping that both Livo and Bixler catch on in Houston. Both are good guys. Anon 1:33 -- I wish I could see all and know all.

Cease the Opportunity said...

I don't know what to believe. I heard FP say over the week-end that pitchers are way ahead of hitters at this point. I can't argue with him since he's been a ML player. But, oh yeah, you know a but was coming, it seems like every team in the ML has scored a bunch of runs in the first two preseason games except one team. Not saying it means anything. Never paid much attention to preseason games in any sport. But, why does it seem as though every team appears able to score a bunch of runs in the first two games except one? Is this one team special? What am I missing? Somebody please fill me in...

Anonymous said...

during the season he'll play it safer,right now its spring training and he's just trying to show hustle and great ability to davey,rizzo,the lerners and his future teamates.im just glad he didnt come up injured.on a side note his swing looks a lot different than it did in his younger days.i prefer his old swing,it had more lift,and better use of his legs.

Oldguy said...

In case anyone might be interested...
Baseball Prospectus Book News
BP2012 Tour Starts This Week
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Time: 7:00 PM
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Anonymous said...

Somebody please fill me in...

Its spring. Its still too early. The Nats have determined 90% of their starting lineup for up to the next 6 years. Its young and will take time to develop. The evaluation / possibility for changes will proceed through April. And at the end of April most believe Bryce Harper will be inserted into the starting lineup most games. He too will be developing before your eyes.

Oldguy said...

Five if last years's playoff clubs scored 3 runs or less yesterday. Rangers, D'backs and Brewers scored 1. And the Tigers hit 8 home runs--the wind?

Feel Wood said...

But, why does it seem as though every team appears able to score a bunch of runs in the first two games except one? Is this one team special? What am I missing? Somebody please fill me in...

Gorzelanny is not allowed to pitch against his own team.

Tcostant said...

nother must read Harper article:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AouH8nuZ5dAsUP8GENEcg8MRvLYF?slug=jp-passan_bryce_harper_washington_nationals_nickname_030512

Gonat said...

In the Houston game on Saturday I think it was Altuve who smoked a ball into RF and Harper got to it quickly and Espinosa got out there for the cut-off and threw a strike to Espinosa's chest instead of air-mailing it to Desmond. I was impressed by that play which showed he is maturing. In Hagerstown he would have thrown it over his cut-off man.

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