Where is the 2015 MVP version of Bryce Harper and can we get him back? We saw the April 2016 version and heard audio clips of Bryce discussing contract extensions with the infamous soundbite “don’t sell me short” and the full quote was: “Yeah, I mean I don’t really think about that stuff. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win. But don’t sell me short. That’s what you’re doing right now to me, so don’t do that. [laughs] I’m looking forward to just playing this year, just looking forward to playing the next couple years. And I think all that stuff will play out.”
Right now, we are more concerned with Bryce selling his team short. The last week, and the last 2 weeks, were not good. The game winning home run that Bryce had over a week ago just scraped over the fence and counts the same as Bryce’s 481 foot blast last month (8.17.16), but we have seen longer flyouts from Nats’ pitchers than that Harper home run of 369 feet last week. Harper’s previous home run was 399 feet on August 28th. Bryce has hit 768 feet of home runs in the last 28 games. We all know this isn’t Bryce Harper.
Over the weekend, the Harper situation got more bizarre as he was playing a version of short-fielder in rightfield, and on Friday to Sunday we had to witness balls being blasted over his head for extra base hits. Possibly more bizarre was it took until Sunday for the media to ask the simple question as to what was up with Harper’s outfield positioning?
@MarkZuckerman Dusty didn't think to ask him about it when they hit it over his head in game 1? Or in game 2? Or anytime during game 3?
— kecr (@KerryCreigh) September 18, 2016
And yes, Dave Jageler really did say this during the rain delay:
@MarkZuckerman C&D heard Braves broadcasters say Bryce shallow play because of injury….if not he needs to see video of his plays#LLeague
— Jane Jennings (@baseballmomof00) September 18, 2016
We now have the Braves broadcasters equating outfield positioning with an injury as they theorized Harper was playing shallow because he could not throw the ball far enough. The conspiracy theories are on overload, but what can explain the worst slump of Bryce’s career?
It all started after the Tom Verducci article on the Sports Illustrated website, but then was vehemently refuted by Mike Rizzo, and a few days later Harper blasted a 481 foot home run for his longest of the season putting all that talk to rest………..now it is back.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 12, 2016
The most immediate move could be what worked in mid-August which was some rest for Bryce, and then wait and see. Could a line-up move also make sense to place Anthony Rendon in between Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper in the batting order?