What you need to know about Bryce Harper’s baserunning
So while we’re on the subject, how good of a baserunner is Bryce Harper, anyway?
Pretty darned good, according to the metrics.
Harper leads the Nationals in extra-base taken rate at 57.1 percent and is tied for 16th in the majors, minimum 400 plate appearances, according to baseball-reference.com and research by MLB Network’s Marc Adelberg.
In other words, any talk about Harper’s lack of hustle is misplaced; no player on his team takes extra bases at a higher rate.
Xander Bogaerts ranks first in the majors at 70.2 percent, followed by Lorenzo Cain (67.7), Elvis Andrus (67.3), Colby Rasmus (66.7) and Mike Trout (65.2).
That said, if I were Harper, I would be more conscious of running harder on apparent outs, if only to prevent such talk from diverting attention from my historic offensive performance at age 22.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister has a fascinating view of baserunning – he says it is the only part of the game that a player can “give back” to his teammates.”
Beat out a ball, and your teammate will bat with a man on base. Advance to second on a ball in the dirt, and your teammate will hit with a man in scoring position. Go first to third with less than two outs, and your teammate gets a chance to gain an RBI.
The thing about Harper is that, according to the metrics, he essentially does all of those things better than his teammates.
If only we were talking about that today.