Are Bryce Harper’s wheels coming off?
Best baserunning team in 2014?
The Royals of course! Right?
Well, maybe not. By one measure, they were second-best. By another, they were just 10th best. But what’s really interesting is that according to both measures, the Nationals were the best baserunning team in the majors last season. From Bill James Online:
The keys to the Nationals’ baserunning success were taking extra bases and avoiding outs. Despite their modest stolen base totals, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and Jason Werth were all in the top 10 in extra bases taken. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper made eight outs on the basepaths and was the only National in the bottom 50 of baserunner outs in baseball.
Okay, so that last bit is pretty interesting, too.
A commenter points out that Harper, in 98 starts, stole only two bases, was caught stealing twice … and was also picked off four times.
This seems worrisome to me. Not because Harper’s baserunning is really hurting the Nationals so much. In terms of runs and wins, we’re talking about relatively small numbers here. But Harper was supposed to be a great all-around player, and now he’s become a poor baserunner while still just 21. Oh, and the numbers suggest he didn’t play well in the outfield last season, either.
I remember when Harper was going to become the next big superstar. Now he’s 22 and seems like he might become a one-dimensional power hitter.