Bryce Harper went 3-for-3 today and is now hitting .750 for the spring.
OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can turn to the real point of this: Bryce Harper has looked fantastic so far this spring, and there's no reason to think he's going to slow down anytime soon.
With a 3-for-3, two-double performance today in the Nationals' 9-5 loss to the Braves, the second-year, outfielder raised his Grapefruit League batting average to .750 (6-for-8). He's hitting the ball with authority. He's hustling like no one else and taking extra bases at will. And he's rifling throws to the plate from his new regular position in left field.
In other words, Harper is performing this spring exactly as he did throughout his Rookie of the Year campaign.
He doesn't need to do this. Harper isn't trying to convince team officials he deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster like he did the previous two springs. His job is as secure as anyone's on the club, and more and more it's looking like he's going to hit third in Davey Johnson's lineup, in between Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman.
But Harper has never known any way to play baseball other than at full-speed. Or perhaps even full-speed-and-a-half. So that's how he's going to continue playing for the next five weeks before the bell rings for good.
"I feel good going into camp this year, and it's good to know that [Johnson] has already pretty much said: 'You're going to be my everyday left fielder,'" Harper told reporters after today's game. "So, I like that feeling going into every single game.
"But you still have to work and compete and try to get better every day, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try to get my ABs in and try to see as many pitches as I can and just try to barrel up as much as I can without the results. I really don't care about the results right now, as long as I'm barreling stuff up and doing the right things out there that I need to do."
While several veterans have been given the first week of this elongated Grapefruit League season off, Harper has been in the lineup for three of the Nationals' first four games. He was supposed to get tomorrow's home game against the Marlins off, but he convinced Johnson to put him back in the lineup, in part because both Werth and Denard Span will be starting and he wants a chance to play alongside his new-look outfield mates for the first time.
"I had him out of the lineup to rest him, and he said: 'What am I doing out of the lineup? I want in the lineup,'" Johnson explained to reporters. "I'm already getting it. He's in. He talked his way in."
In the two years he's known Harper, Davey has learned a simple truth: It's not worth trying to hold the kid back, because he's not going to let you do it.
For some, this might be a concern. The last thing anyone should be doing right now is exerting themselves too much this early in camp.
But based on what we've seen from him since he was drafted, this really isn't a concern for Harper. Not right now. He's full of too much youthful energy to get tired, and he's too physically fit to be considered an injury risk.
He's a supremely talented ballplayer whose natural abilities are surpassed only by his intense work ethic and desire to perform at the highest level.
Does that make Harper's .750 spring training batting average more meaningful than any other player's late-February stats? No. But it certainly doesn't do anything to quell the sky-high expectations for this season for a 20-year-old who has every reason to believe he can be the best ballplayer on the planet in 2013.