How can one process in their mind the magnitude of Bryce Harper’s game on September 3rd as one of the greatest games ever without swinging the bat 1 time. How can that be? Those who say baseball is boring and paid to watch Bryce hit a HR with bases loaded and only got to see a walk, don’t get it.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 4, 2015
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Bryce Harper: 4 BB, 4 runs in a game for 2nd time this yr (tonight, Aug. 18). Last w/ 4 BB, 4 R in a game 2x in a season: Dom DiMaggio, 1950
Bryce had 4 walks, 1 RBI in 4 plate appearances and scored 4 runs and no official at-bats and that set a MLB record. There have been 3 other players to go 0-0 that have scored 4 runs in a game and in chronological order are: Larry Doby (1951), Joe Morgan (1973) and Rickey Henderson (1989), and they are all Hall of Famers, but none of them had a RBI in those 4 plate appearances putting Harper in a unique class by himself.
Bryce also didn’t swing at a pitch the entire night of the 20 pitches he saw and this is from ESPN Stats:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Bryce Harper faced 20 pitches, didn’t swing at any of them; 2nd-most pitches w/o a swing in a game in last 10 seasons (Juan Uribe, 21, 2010)
Bryce explained, “I’ve done it before. I’ve done it in high school. I’ve done it in college. I did it when I was like 10 years old. It’s part of the game. Like I’ve said numerous times, I’ve got the confidence of everybody on the team to get the job done behind me. And you saw that tonight. That was good.”
But, there was a time Bryce didn’t do it and would expand the strike zone and pitchers exploited him. He would see the most pitches out of the zone for much of 2014 and prior and Bryce would chase pitches. We wrote that Bryce was susceptible to chasing breaking pitches out of the zone and until he learned to not expand his zone that he wouldn’t get to the next step. All that seemed to change from Game 1 of 2015. Bryce showed amazing plate discipline and pitchers had to bring it to him. It was the Barry Bonds approach of 2001. Don’t help the pitchers, and you can still hit HRs if they dare get too much of the plate.
Now that the batter after Harper is hitting en fuego, the combo of Harper and Ryan Zimmerman is making things more productive in the “pick your poison” type of way. You pitch around Bryce and Ryan Zimmerman will hurt you.
Ryan Zimmerman’s thoughts were, “Usually every team picks one person that they’re not going to let beat them, and obviously Harp is the choice more times than not. I’m proud of him for being patient. That really shows the maturity that he’s come around this year. It’s hard to take those pitches, because everyone wants to get hits and everyone wants to drive in runs. Walks are good, but obviously it takes a lot of patience and discipline to do what he’s doing. I’m proud of him for that.”
Speaking of the Barry Bonds approach, there was that time 17 1/4 years ago —May 28, 1998— when Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter made the decision to intentionally walk Barry Bonds with the bases loaded in the 8th inning of a game the DBacks were winning at the time 7-4 and Showalter brought in Gregg Olson to pitch and the Giants countered with Bonds to pinch-hit, and fShowalter signaled for the intentional walk to make the score 7-5 and all that came with 2 outs, and it almost backfired on Showalter as they held on to win 8-7. Last night in the 2nd inning when Wisler had bases loaded it seemed like a page from May 28, 1998 where young Matt Wisler was going to pick his poison and pitch around Bryce Harper and walk him although he did throw 1 strike in the zone, but the rest of the pitches weren’t even close. Was this an intentional/un-intentional walk masked by 1 in the zone?
“I’ve got confidence in everybody on our team to get the job done behind me,” said Harper, who got a chance to watch from the bench in the 6th inning of the 15-1 win after watching his walks for the season go from 100 to 104. “I’ll take my walks when I can. And when they throw the ball over the plate, I’ll take my hits, too.”
And if all that isn’t enough, StatCast thought a lot about Bryce’s scoring from 1st base on a Ryan Zimmerman double!
— #Statcast (@statcast) September 4, 2015
More stats, Bryce raised his OBP last night from .460 to .464 (yes even with 4 walks it didn’t move much) and he leads the Majors in OBP, SLG, OPS (1.090) , and WAR (8.0), and his 104 walks and .331 BA are 2nd highest.
Anything else to add?