I’m voting for Bryce Harper for Manager of the Year. We roasted him for his comments, but he is a genius motivator. This kid is spectacularly talented; now we know he’s brilliant too.
Let’s travel back to the end of June, when Harper hypothetically removed Denard Span from the lineup.
"I think [Zimmermann] should be playing left," Harper said. "Rendon’s a good third baseman. He should be playing third. We’ve got one of the best second basemen in the league in Danny Espinosa. Of course, we want the best-hitting lineup in there."
Roughly ten days later, Denard became the best player in baseball. No, I mean it. He has been more valuable than any other player. Over the last 30 days, Span is tied for the major-league lead in WAR with Josh Harrison. This value isn’t coming from sketchy defensive metrics, either. He’s gotten on base nearly 50% of the time over 1/6 of the season. Ridiculous.
So, did Harper’s comments fire Span up? Does he visualize Bryce’s face as he strolls to the dish? Not likely. He was already a good baseball player, and boy, has he been lucky. His batting average on balls in play over the last month is .473, significantly higher than his .321 career mark.
It’s still fun to fantasize about Harper knowing the precise motivational tactic to take with Span. What a spectacular spin. I’m rolling with it.