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Bryce Harper clubbed his 12th homer of the season during yesterday's win.
Here's the thing, though, about Harper and those mistakes: When he does make one, he learns his lesson and inevitably gets it right the next time around.
We've seen it throughout his brief tenure with the Nationals, and we certainly saw it multiple times during a just-completed, 10-game road trip during which Harper experienced what felt like a season's worth of highs and lows.
He crashed into the wall at Dodger Stadium, nearly decapitating himself and severely banging up his body. This led to all sorts of opinions being offered on how Harper should or shouldn't change the way he plays the game, perhaps enough chatter to actually linger in his head and cause him to develop alligator arms on a crucial drive to right-center in the bottom of the ninth inning in San Francisco eight nights later.
And how did Harper respond to that potential crisis? By making several impressive plays during yesterday's 2-1 victory at AT&T Park, including one on a very similar drive to the warning track in right-center.
Harper learned a lesson or two at the plate, as well, during this trip. Bumped up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup while Jayson Werth continues to overcome a strained hamstring, he twice stepped to the plate on Tuesday with Denard Span on base and squared around to bunt. The second infraction, coming in the eighth inning of a 2-1 game, was particularly troublesome because it allowed the Giants to intentionally walk Ryan Zimmerman and set up a favorable matchup against Adam LaRoche, and it drew public criticism from Zimmerman himself.
How did Harper respond to that situation? By remembering why Davey Johnson wanted him batting second in the first place: to produce big hits. So he clubbed a homer in the sixth inning on Wednesday, then ignited the winning rally in the 10th with a one-out double and ultimately scoring the decisive run.
That homer, incidentally, was Harper's 12th of the season. He's the first 20-year-old to hit that many home runs in his team's first 50 games since Orlando Cepeda in 1958. Select company.
With the season barely more than 25 percent complete, Harper finds himself on pace for 41 homers. He's on that pace despite missing six games so far due to injuries and illnesses.
That doesn't make Harper the perfect ballplayer. He still makes mistakes, just like anyone else who steps onto the field (especially anyone else with as little experience at this level).
But Harper has shown an uncanny ability to learn from his mistakes and rarely, if ever, repeat them.
And that trait, along with everything else in his arsenal, makes him such a dynamic ballplayer now with the promise of becoming even better over time.