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Entries in Bryce Harper (10)


Harper, Trout Polar Opposites on the First Pitch

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout turned in epic seasons while taking home Rookie of the Year Honors. In addition to their swift defense and base running savvy, Harper (whose 22 HR trailed only Tony Conigliaro among all teenage hitters) and Trout (whose 171 OPS+ was highest ever for a player qualifying for the batting title during his age-20 season) were historically dangerous in the batter's box. But the two stars destined to be compared to each other for decades to come began their at-bats in markedly different ways. Harper was ultra-aggressive on the first pitch. Trout, by contrast, rarely took the lumber off his shoulder in 0-0 counts.

Check out Harper and Trout's swing rates by pitch location in 0-0 counts:

Harper's first-pitch swing rate by pitch location


Trout' first-pitch swing rate by pitch location

Harper took one of his hellacious cuts about 41% of the time in first-pitch counts, dwarfing the 26% major league average. The only qualified hitters with a higher first-pitch swing rate were Josh Hamilton, Ian Desmond, B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman, Yadier Molina, Delmon Young, Danny Espinosa and Chris Davis. Harper's aggression paid off, as he slugged .659 on the first pitch (.579 MLB average).

Trout swung just under 10% of the time in first-pitch situations. Kevin Youkilis, Martin Prado, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia and J.J. Hardy were the only batters with a more passive approach on the first pitch. While Harper chased 24% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone in 0-0 counts, Trout showed Zen-like patience by going after only 5% of first-pitch offerings (14% MLB average).

Two all-time great rookies, two totally different (and effective) ways of beginning ABs. Harper embraced his inner Josh Hamilton, lunging at first pitches and tallying lots of extra-base knocks. Trout channeled Rickey Henderson, laying off would-be balls and later doing damage in hitter's counts. Sorry, pitchers: whether these guys swing at the first pitch or not, you really don't stand a chance.


The rookie Septembers of Mays, Mantle, Harper, and Trout 

This post, comparing the rookie Septembers of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout  was inspired by an observation from the great biographer Jane Leavy on Face the Nation on October 7, 2012 on CBS.

Willie Mays - September/October, 1951

  Sept/Oct 28 120 103 5 24 5 1 1 9 3 0 17 17 .233 .342 .330 .672
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table
Generated 10/7/2012.

Mickey Mantle - September/October, 1951

  Sept/Oct 23 87 76 17 22 1 0 4 14 1 1 11 19 .289 .379 .461 .840
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table
Generated 10/7/2012.

Bryce Harper - September/October, 2012

Sept/Oct 31 126 112 27 37 8 3 7 14 5 1 12 24 .330 .400 .643 1.043
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table
Generated 10/7/2012.

Mike Trout - September/October 2012

Sept/Oct 30 135 114 23 33 5 2 5 9 7 1 20 35 .289 .400 .500 .900
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table
Generated 10/7/2012.

September/October Leaders

  • Batting average: Harper
  • Homers: Harper
  • RBI: Harper
  • OBP: Harper/Trout
  • Slugging: Harper
  • OPS: Harper
  • Steals: Trout
  • Doubles: Harper
  • Triples: Harper

Breaking Down Bryce Harper's Homers

As the Nationals chase 100 wins, Bryce Harper has an outside shot of becoming baseball's all-time teenage home run champ. With 21 bombs, Harper has already passed the likes of Mickey Mantle (13 in 1951), Ken Griffey Jr. (16 in 1989) and Mel Ott (18 in 1928). Next up is Tony Conigliaro, who hit 24 homers back in 1964. How has Harper put himself one power surge away from Tony C.'s record? Here's a quick breakdown of Harper's homers.

  • The lefty-hitting Harper has gone deep 15 times against right-handed pitchers, and six times versus lefties.
  • He has done more damage on non-fastballs (12 home runs) than fastballs (nine). Harper has nine homers against fastballs/sinkers, four against changeups, three apiece versus sliders and cutters, and two on curveballs. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that Harper has more big flies against non-fastballs, considering that he has seen the second-lowest percentage of fastballs among all qualified MLB hitters:

Lowest fastball percentage seen among qualified hitters, 2012

BatterFastball Pct.
Pedro Alvarez 38.1%
Bryce Harper 38.3%
Cameron Maybin 38.5%
Alfonso Soriano 38.9%
Ike Davis 39.3%
Chris Johnson 40.2%
Justin Upton 40.5%
Josh Hamilton 40.6%
Dan Uggla 40.7%
Jesus Montero 40.9%


  • Harper hasn't had much use for the opposite field, as his homer spray chart shows:

 He has hit 12 HR to the pull side, six to center field and three to left field.

  • While Harper's pull power would lead you to believe that he hit most of his homers  against inside stuff, he actually has more taters on outside pitches (nine) than inside or middle offerings (six apiece).
  • Six of Harper's homers have come on the first pitch of an at-bat. The only NL hitters with more first-pitch home runs are Ike Davis (11), Jay Bruce (10), Carlos Beltran (10), Ryan Braun (nine), Adam LaRoche (eight) and Matt Holliday (seven).