Back in 2011 I visited Busch Stadium and watched the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Chicago Cubs. The game ended up going to extra innings and the Cubs brought in Rodrigo Lopez to face Albert Pujols in the bottom of the tenth innings and what happened was what everyone knew was going to happen. There was no question that Rodrigo Lopez facing Albert Pujols was asking for disaster and it happened. Pujols hit a walk-off home run and everyone that wasn't Rodrigo Lopez went home happy.
I bring up that story because that is the feeling I'm starting to get with Bryce Harper at bats. There is a sense of menace in the air. Bryce Harper is danger and he is going to make pitchers pay. It is like all opposing pitchers watched Matt Harvey strike Bryce Harper out with high fastballs and decided they would try this but never realized that they aren't Matt Harvey.
Listening to the radio this morning and the talk of Bryce Harper's approach at the plate made it sound like he was a terrible player that had no discipline at all. It was like they mistook Danny Espinosa 2013-14 for Bryce Harper. Bryce Harper has always had good numbers. His career OPS coming into this season was about the same as Ryan Zimmerman's and Zimmerman is the face of the franchise, but people put insanely high expectations on Harper and now he is playing like an MVP. An .800 OPS just isn't good enough for people when they're expecting 1.000.
Harper is now hitting .300/.435/.655. Bryce Harper isn't just playing like a good player or an MVP player. He's playing like an all-time great. An over 1.000 OPS is rare but there is nothing in Harper's approach that shows it can't continue. When he isn't hitting home runs he's walking and getting on base which will keep the OBP high and since that doesn't count as an at bat it won't hurt his slugging. It's a long season and it's doubtful that Harper will be hotter than he's been to start May.
Even if Harper finishes with an OPS in a lower range he should still be in the talk for MVP. UZR does not like he's defense but DRS does and from having watched him play this season I'm going with the DRS. He runs down balls in the gaps and holds runners with his arm. There isn't much not to like about Bryce Harper's defense but even if it ends up looking bad by UZR it should easily be outweighed by his offense. Players that turn at bats into appointment viewing are rare and that is what Bryce Harper has become and I can't remember wanting to watch a player's at bats this much since Pujols started to go downhill.