Why Harper won’t make it
He has a pretty gnarly temper in a game in which cooler heads usually prevail
If you haven’t heard of or seen one of Harper’s patented temper tantrums, here is a video of him getting ejected after fervently arguing a called third strike during a Minor League game last season. He also recently received 10 stitches above his left eye after slamming his bat in frustration against a wall, and having it bounce back and slam him in the face. Smooth move, ex-lax.
And you know what that means. No, not that he is allowed (entitled?) to have multiple gorgeous brides at his every beck and call. It means he will have to go on his two-year mission soon, a tradition required of every young Mormon. Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is also a Mormon and he went on a mission during college, spending two years in Spain before transferring from BYU to Stanford. Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom served a mission in Sweden after graduating high school and before going to college. Harper may have to put this blossoming baseball career on hold for a bit, and what will happen then? It can’t be easy to step into a Major League batter’s box after a couple years away from the game, prodigy or not.
He plays for the Nationals
The relatively new Washington franchise may be up-and-coming, but they are still not a marquee team that people will pay to see. They also boast a modest payroll of about $80 million, which is significantly less than those of most perennial contenders. If the Nats can’t spend with the big boys in order to get better, Harper cannot improve without better talent surrounding him in the batting order. (Note: It’s still possible that in six years, when his current deal is up, he signs a monster deal with the Yankees. In that case, this point will be moot as every other hitter in that lineup can clearly mash.)
He’s a burnout waiting to happen
His supreme talent has made the game always seem easy – and almost boring -- for Harper. His dad, like many other fathers before him, spent a plethora of time during Bryce’s childhood trying to “breed” him to be a pro ballplayer. We have seen this before in sports, and it doesn’t always end well. When you’ve been branded as “Baseball’s Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated, that’s a lofty goal to live up to, no matter how cocky you may be.
His defense could use some work
For someone who is billed as being the top prospect of his generation, playing the outfield may not come as naturally to Harper as everything else seems to. And, as mentioned earlier, the Nationals intend to keep him out there for a long time to prolong his career. A few more embarrassing plays like this one, though, could really cause Nats management to scratch their heads and ree-valuate the game plan. Again, this point is moot once he gets that Yankees contract and is comfortably DH-ing for the Bronx Bombers in six years.