Thursday, August 8, 2013

Harper growing into leader for Nats



During his rookie season, Bryce Harper was brought up to help an already loaded Nationals team that was first place in their division. He was an added plus to a roster of veterans, looked at for a spark with several guys down to injury.

Fast forward to this year and Harper is one of the central figures in the Nats' clubhouse. Washington reconfigured their team to replace offense with defense and have looked at Harper to be one of the central pieces of their lineup. While they didn't necessarily need him in 2012, now he's irreplaceable.

It was a quick transition for the young star who's still only 20-years-old, but not a challenge too big. He definitely sees a difference in his role this season, and hopes to expand his place as a leader on the team moving forward.

"I was just going to keep my mouth shut for the whole year last year, just try to play my game and play as hard as I could every single day. I was truly blessed and humbled to be a part of this team last year and to be a part of it this year," he said.

Harper spoke up after a blowout loss against the Tigers on July 31, saying the Nats needed to play with more heart, from the manager down. It was a big step in the maturity of the All-Star outfielder, his first real attempt at making a public rallying cry.

The Nats haven't necessarily responded to his words quite yet, but Harper is comfortable with trying more things of that sort in the future.

"I’ve always been a leader ever since I was younger. Each team I’ve played for I’ve tried to lead and lead by example."

Harper is still the youngest player on the Nationals, even with seven different players making their MLB debuts this season. He still looks up to the older players on the team, particularly Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth whom he calls the true leaders in clubhouse.

"Desmond, he’s a big leader for us, and also J-dub. Having those two guys on our club lead us towards what we need to do, I’ll let them do that for now and hopefully just do what I can do to help this team win."

It has been a tough season for the 54-60 Nationals who are watching their playoff chances diminish by the day. There is still hope, however, for them to make the postseason, and Harper isn't wavering. He says the NL Wild Card is still attainable.

"All we need to do is get our foot in the door and get in that last game. Hopefully we get into the playoffs."

68 comments:

WA2CHI said...

Interesting that he doesn't mention Ryan Zimmerman as one of the leaders in the clubhouse

SonnyG10 said...

Harp taking the bull by the horns. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

SonnyG10 said...

Ryan believes in leading by example and...oops!

Secret wasian man said...

Luv Harper. Very disappointed in Zimms comments about Harp and his complacent attitude. In fact Desi, Zimm and ALR all seem to be complacent.

livernonions said...

There is no basis for calling Desmond complacent. He's appeared to be a natural leader on the team for several years. To the extent that one believes that Davey was checking on Bryce's knee last night after Bryce didn't run out a flyball, you'll note that Desmond was also in Bryce's face checking on his knee. Over and Out.

ruggeds1000 said...

Let the infighting begin. Predictable for a losing team that is underachieving. It will be a soap opera from here on.

m said...

These guys are pretenders,the whole lot. Someone should get some t-shirts made with the label "Pretedners" and send them to them. If I am DJ every time someone weakly rolls over to the right side, floats a throw to first base, fails to advance a runner, lets someone steal sceond, etc. he gets presented with a t-shirt. Knowing this group they would meekly accept the T.

This groups reminds me of some of the dark "Expos" days

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Baseball isn't football. "Passion" (which the whole 19th-century Romanticism-besotted culture seems to love) doesn't help here. What's needed is less, not more intensity. Relax the attitude, soften the swing, forget about Nattitude (it's a marketing slogan, not a way of life) and drill on the fundamentals - which (Boswell is right) they're really, really bad at.

NatsLady said...

I'm with Bryce. If you want reality, if you want plausibility--why watch sports? The excitement is in the improbable.

ruggeds1000 said...

Davey ought to get himself thrown out of a couple of games, call out his players publicly, and try a little small ball.

Ah, I feel better.

Doc said...

The use of the word complacent is really ignorant and arrogant and demonstrates little understanding of how this game is played.

These guys play a full season of baseball every year of their careers.

Is there anyone who contributes to NI that works any harder and shows more effort in life than these guys--probably not??

Section 109 DC said...

@Secret wasian man:
"Very disappointed in Zimms comments about Harp and his complacent attitude." I missed this. Could you give details?
I love Harper. He always plays with heart, and on the whole he has shown a lot of self-control and grace under the spotlight--a lot more than I would have been capable of at his age!

Tcostant said...

Harper for player / manager!

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

An important quality of a leader is that he should be willing to run into a wall for his troops.

And who cares that Zimmerman is not a leader on this team any more? Ever hear the expression "Too many chiefs, not enough Indians"?

JD said...


Feel Wood,

You are right but what I do care about is the fact that he's a 0.9 WAR player instead of the 6.8 WAR player he was a few years ago and he's only 28.

derwink said...

The rest of the year will show who is worth keeping and who should be moved. Hopefully they rally together, show some heart, and finish on a positive note.

I'm sure Rizzo is watching closely.

baseballswami said...

I totally get the long season, not over thinking., staying loose thing. But it is a competitive sport and there just has to be a certain amount of competitive fire, How can you compete if you don't have any of that desire and fighting spirit? I don't think they have to go all Hunter Pence or anything, but sometimes a few of them look like they are doing nothing more intense than mowing the lawn out there.

NatsLady said...

Danny Knobler ‏@DannyKnoblerCBS
Biggest name of note who went on waivers today: Dan Haren.

bowdenball said...

baseballswami said...

"I totally get the long season, not over thinking., staying loose thing. But it is a competitive sport and there just has to be a certain amount of competitive fire, How can you compete if you don't have any of that desire and fighting spirit? I don't think they have to go all Hunter Pence or anything, but sometimes a few of them look like they are doing nothing more intense than mowing the lawn out there."

Almost the exact same team looked almost exactly the same on the field and in the dugout last year. They won 98 games.

By the way have you watched a lot of Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera? Trout doesn't look particularly serious out there, he goes about his business with a demeanor similar to Zimmerman. Cabrera smiles and laughs his way through nine innings a day. Doesn't seem to affect their ability to perform at a high level.




NatsLady said...

You can sort this table if you want to see how our 2013 draft picks are doing.

2013 draft picks

http://mlbfarm.com/prospects_all.php?idp=team&sortp=asc&tab=1&rangep=2013&roundp=

bowdenball said...

I should have said Trout doesn't look passionate or intense or fiery, similar to Zimmerman. Obviously both men take the game seriously.

Secret wasian man said...

Zimm saying Harp and his rah rah stuff is overrated..... Jeff Geaorge uttered those same type words with the Skins. Complacent? Absolutely. These guys have been getting up there and going through the motions. Despite never delivering the big hit they NEVER change their approach. Desi is always swinging for the fences. ALR strikes out ALL the time. And Zimm is Always pitched on the outer edge and does NOTHING to compensate for it. And Please let's not talk about Span

Secret wasian man said...

Harper not complacent. Zimm is.

Section 222 said...

Back in early 2011, ALR's first year with us, I went to a game in Pittsburgh and talked to Pirates fans about ALR. They booed him mercilessly because they felt he didn't care when he hit poorly during his time with the Pirates. ALR was awful in 2011 before he finally admitted he couldn't play with a torn labrum. He was great in 2012. He's been mediocre this year. His attitude on the field is always the same. Like ALR, I think most of players have a style that's natural to them, and it's probably not going to change. For Harper, it's fire. For Zim, it's ice.

But that doesn't mean Zim should diss Harper's style or his efforts to inspire other players. That quote after Bryce showed up with the T-shirt was pretty darn bad in my opinion. And Harper's failure to mention Zim in this interview is telling. Trouble in paradise indeed.

Another_Sam said...

This stuff if fodder for conversation on a day off, but I'm more interested in what occurs between the foul lines. What we NI's see at the office -- office politics, and so on -- is one thing. I don't impute my experiences to these elite professional entertainers. I say again: Play Ball!

A DC Wonk said...

Despite never delivering the big hit they NEVER change their approach. Desi is always swinging for the fences.

Did you notice that his OPS is third on the team, and he leads the team in RBI's. And leads the team in WAR?

Just asking.

JD said...


Wonk,

Please. Don't try to confuse SWM with facts.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

"JD said...


Feel Wood,

You are right but what I do care about is the fact that he's a 0.9 WAR player instead of the 6.8 WAR player he was a few years ago and he's only 28."

(a) He's coming off major shoulder surgery. Let's see how he is next year and the year after that. He's still only 28.

(b) WAR. What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

The Pirates fans I know hate LaRoche because he never started hitting in a season until after the Pirates were already out of it. His great second half that always occurred like clockwork came too late to do the team any good. LaRoche picked up his nice raise based on his acceptable year-averaged stats, then he'd come back the next year and do it again.

Ivan Tuski said...

was it over when the Spaniards bombed the Maine?
heck no.
play ball

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Yeah, Zimmerman and Harper clearly hate each other. Major schism on that team.

m said...

DC Wonk

Do you not understand the point that that poster was making concerning Desmond's inability to alter his approach depending on the particular situation.


Just asking

natsfan1a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Secret wasian man said...

Thanks M. There's people here who,still think everything is just fine. Anybody have a problem with ALR NOT changing his approach the other night? Rather than letting count get to 3 and 0 and coaxing a walk which would tie the game. He keeps his same APPROACH and swings fow a grand slammy. He said it himself. Then grounds to the first baseman. And that JD is a FACT!!!!!

natsfan1a said...

To expand on this comment, I'd like to see the actual quote as published, in context, rather than someone's interpretation of it. kthxbai

Section 109 DC said...

@Secret wasian man:
"Very disappointed in Zimms comments about Harp and his complacent attitude." I missed this. Could you give details?

August 08, 2013 4:14 PM

Secret wasian man said...

Natsfan I'll get the quote for you.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, swm. I was out of town last weekend and must have missed it.

Secret wasian man said...

Well of course I can't find it but it was something like we are all adults here we don't need to be told to get fired up. We don't need the pep talks..... I don't know maybe I'm reading into it too much

Secret wasian man said...

The complacency I mean is from Zimm. Almost like he's not getting excited like Bryce is. Why not? That's kinda complacent I think.

NatsLady said...

1a, RZimm did say that. Harper said they would fight to the end, had t-shirts made up. Abad liked them, said he was wearing his. RZim daid something to the effect 30-year-old men don't need to be told how to go about their business.

NatsLady said...

Here is the exact quote.

In Zimmerman’s view, Harper may have mistaken steady professionalism for indifference. Harper is not far removed from his high school football days. Zimmerman eschews team meetings and pep talks.

“When it comes down to it, you shouldn’t have to tell 30-year-old men who are getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball what to do or have to fire ’em up,” Zimmerman said. “I really don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I go out there every night and do everything I can to help the team win, whether we’re 30 games under .500 or 30 games over. Because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I don’t really think anyone else in that clubhouse has a different mind-set than I do.”

Johnson sided with Zimmerman. Anxiety, he believes, is the product of losing, not the root of it. “Shoot, earlier in the year my whole bench was hitting under .200,” Johnson said. “You think they’re going to be singing karaoke songs?”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/zimmermann-harper-lift-nationals-past-brewers-4-1/2013/08/03/6ff4f752-fbee-11e2-9bde-7ddaa186b751_story.html

NatsLady said...

Some people call that "complacency." Other say, "grinding, day in day out." Take your pick.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

From Kilgore's gamer, 8/3/13:

Harper stressed togetherness and urgency, but his plea did not exactly reverberate through the clubhouse. “What’d he say?” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman replied when asked for his thoughts on the comments.

“When it comes down to it, you shouldn’t have to tell 30-year-old men who are getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball what to do or have to fire ’em up,” Zimmerman said. “I really don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I go out there every night and do everything I can to help the team win, whether we’re 30 games under .500 or 30 games over. Because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I don’t really think anyone else in that clubhouse has a different mind-set than I do.”


So in reality, Zimmerman never commented on Harper's T shirts. He never even commented on Harper's comments. He commented on what Harper said as related to him by Stuttering Adam Kilgore.

NatsLady said...

Matt Williams apparently purchased (and used) HGH, and was named in the Mitchell Report.

On November 6, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Williams purchased $11,600 worth of human growth hormone, steroids and other drugs from the Palm Beach clinic in 2002.

Williams later told the Chronicle he used HGH on the advice of a doctor to treat an ankle injury he suffered during spring training in 2002.
On December 13, 2007, he was named among the dozens of players alleged to have used steroids in the Mitchell Report, commissioned by Major League Baseball and written by former Senator George J. Mitchell.

Seems to be a bit of a divisive character. I don't know anything about him, just going by comments from fans of his various teams.

NatsLady said...

Exactly. This Harper/Zimm thing is all gossip, IMO, which my mother would frown on severely. As someone said above, what concerns me more is what happens on the field. Short of DUIs and PEDs, my interest in clubhouse "news" is very limited.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

It's seems odd to argue that grown men getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball should need to be told to do their jobs; hard to fault Zim for holding an obvious opinion.

Different fans, different sportwriters, different ballplayers, different people--they approach their work in their own ways. Some are rah-rah, some are lah-di-dah. The world isn't one-size-fits-all. Which also sounds obvious when you put it that way, and yet, there's always somebody who seems to think it is.

Candide said...

Lots of dumping on Zimmerman because he isn't the rah-rah, let's-go-get-'em kinda of guy.

Here are his situational stats for this season.
Leftmost number is the number of ABs. Averages are BA and OPS:

230 Bases Empty .252 .703
145 Runners On .297 .865
74 RISP .324 .911
32 RISP w/2 Outs .313 .890
10 Bases Loaded .500 1.500

As others have pointed out, RZ is the team's best hitter with RISP. Just get one guy on and he's hitting almost .300 with a healthy OPS. This team has its problems, but Zimmerman's hitting isn't one of them; it's the guys who don't get on base ahead of him who are hurting the club, because when they DO get on base, he moves them.

For comparison's sake, RZ has only 12 homers, but 54 RBI's this season. Bryce Harper has 17 homers, but only 38 RBIs. Lots of bases-empty HRs, but look at Harper's situational numbers compred to Zimmerman's:

174 Bases Empty .264 .902
95 Runners On .284 .877
47 RISP .255 .935
17 RISP w/2 Outs .176 .593
3 Bases Loaded .000 .200

So Zimmerman doesn't go rah-rah-rah. Big freaking deal. Given the choice of the guy who talks a good game and the guy who plays it, I'll take the latter every day.

(Please note, this is not intended to be a slap at Harper. Love the kid.)

Candide said...

A little more perspective on RZ:

As a team, the Nats are batting .231 with RISP, .190 with RISP and 2 outs. So Zimmerman's hitting almost 100 points higher than the rest of the team with RISP, almost 125 points higher with RISP/two outs.

So don't tell me he's mailing it in. Because if he is, the rest of the team hasn't even put the address on the envelope.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Post of the day goes to Candide, for rushing to RZ's defense with this gem:

"So don't tell me he's mailing it in. Because if he is, the rest of the team hasn't even put the address on the envelope."

Dead Letter Office, please...

paul brandt said...

TyMo 2-3 with 3 RBI's today now hitting .312, good golly Rizzo what the heck are you waiting for? bring him up and put him at 1b and sit ALR...if Drake gets upset, am sure we can find a new bat boy.

5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 said...

At this point I just think back to spring training when ALR, Zimm, Stammen, and Werth were yukking it up at the Daytona 500 while the rest of the team was playing a game (literally). I keep laughing at the commercial where Gomer Zimmerman Pyle is calling himself someone who leads with his work ethic and play.

5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 said...

I've determined that Bernandinas nickname should be the shart, opposed to the shark. Bryce is the future of the team, if he gets some competitors around him that take loses personally as he does this team will be excellent.

baseballswami said...

Free Tyler Moore.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Two-for-one Tyler Moore

paul brandt said...

Free Tyler Moore t-shirts coming soon!

jeffwx said...

What's this about Haren going on waivers ?

paul brandt said...

jeff, happens every year to alot of players once the trade deadline passes...I looked on-line to see if I could find the best explanation...this is the best one I could find...if off base, am sure someone will let us know.

The nuts and bolts:

Over the next month, deals involving players on 40-man rosters cannot be made unless the players have cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the lesser record.

At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Like there's going to be a gas line to take Haren and his $13 million salary (and 5+ ERA) for the final seven-week stretch drive.

In your dreams.

Unless somebody needs a BP pitcher.

derwink said...

According to mlbtraderumors.com:

Haren's past five starts have showed promise, though. He's sporting a 2.40 ERA in that time with 32 strikeouts against eight walks in 30 innings. Most importantly, he's surrendered just two homers in that time. He's owed just under $3.7MM for the remainder of the year.

IIRC, he finished strong last year as well.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Alumni News: Justin Maxwell went deep for KC tonight.

NatsLady said...

Tyler Moore didn't play in the second game of Syracuse's double header tonight....

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Haren going on waivers is not news. Haren getting claimed on waivers would be news, since it would indicate that some other team might be willing to trade for him. Said trade could include the Nats absorbing a chunk of his remaining salary.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

I just read the thread, and I am wondering what Zim's defenders know that the people who play the game do not know. If Zim is so much better with the stick than Harper then why do so many managers pitch around Harper to get at Zim? Huh? Have you seen anyone pitch around any of the other Nats to get to Harper? I didn't think so. Opposing managers bring in LOOGYs just to pitch to Harper. When was the last time you saw an opposing manager bring in a righty to just to pitch to Zim?

Anyone who hits cleanup and has only 12 HRs, total, at this time of year, does not belong in the cleanup spot. And 3 of that total came in one game.

And Mike Trout plays with an elan that Zim has never had, and never will. Please.

Zim plays as hard, or harder, than anyone else on the team, and I have a great deal of respect for him for that, and always will. But he is not a team leader, and his own comments tell you why that is so. I do not think it is any coincidence that Harper mentioned the same 2 guys that I did, Desi and Werth, as the clubhouse leaders. I would add Harp to that list.

I have said that the Nats would be Harper's team by the time he was 23. It is happening a lot faster than I predicted. The other guys don't bother with throwing at Zim. He is no longer the face of the Nats, and certainly is not seen as the Nats inspirational leader by the bad guys. They throw at the guy they already perceive as the team's leader on the field, Mr. Harper.

Last year Hanley Ramirez had an off year after suffering a shoulder injury the prior year. I think it is entirely possible that Zim will come back next year the way Hanley has come back this year. If not, then the Nats have to find someone else to hit cleanup, or in the 3-hole, or they are going to continue to be a low-scoring team next year, too. Neither Zim nor ALR has done the job this year.

I said before the season started that Zim would be the key to the success or failure of the Nats this year, and he has been. They needed Zim to have an outstanding year, but he has been lass than mediocre, and so have the Nats. The most successful offensive teams are the ones with guys in the 3 and 4 slots who put up big numbers. Maybe Zim will be able to do that next year. He sure hasn't produced this year.

Brandon Wedel said...

"Have you seen anyone pitch around any of the other Nats to get to Harper?"

On July 4 the Brewers intentionally walked Desmond to get to Harper and load the bases. It worked.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks to NL and Feel for the quotes and context. Agree with sec3's take.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

It's seems odd to argue that grown men getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball should need to be told to do their jobs; hard to fault Zim for holding an obvious opinion.

Different fans, different sportwriters, different ballplayers, different people--they approach their work in their own ways. Some are rah-rah, some are lah-di-dah. The world isn't one-size-fits-all. Which also sounds obvious when you put it that way, and yet, there's always somebody who seems to think it is.
August 08, 2013 8:09 PM

natsfan1a said...

And thanks to swm for also trying to track down the quote.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

I recall Ian being IBBd twice to get to Harper.

raymitten said...

I'm not a big fan of a 20 year old appointing himself 'leader'. If a hotshot kid came into your workplace and started telling you what to do, you'd be resentful too. I agree with Zim, veterans don't need Harper telling them how to play. Effort is not the issue on this team. Harper is doing more harm than good. I don't remember Barry Larkin telling Dave Concepcion how to play SS.

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