Bryce Harper: Please explain.

Someone needs to explain the fascination with Bryce Harper to me.

Consider:  Among MLB players over the past three seasons who’ve played at least half of their games in the outfield and have a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances, Bryce Harper is 26th in WAR, with 7.5.

You want to tell me WAR isn’t perfect, that’s cool – I agree.  But twenty-sixth…

By all accounts, the guy is going to be getting the equivalent of a Powerball payout very soon and there are 25 players who do what he does better than he does it.  One of whom is Brett Gardner and his 3.5 wins more than Harper over that span, who just signed for $7.5 million.  Harper is going to find that between his couch cushions soon.

We’re not talking about a small sample size here.  This is a three-season stretch that shows him to be a good starting position player, but nowhere near the superstar that he’s going to be paid like.

Want some more perspective?

Among outfielders who’ve been more valuable over the past three seasons, again according to bWAR there are:

  • Seven players who have at least 500 fewer plate appearances than Harper. Aaron Judge, Kevin Kiermaier, Tommy Pham, Mitch Haniger, Chris Taylor, Aaron Hicks, and Adam Eaton have all played virtually a full season less than Harper and have still provided more value.
  • Players like Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez who’s WAR numbers are penalized by being primarily DHs now.
  • Corey Dickerson, Kevin Pillar, Starling Marte, Ender Inciarte, and Marcell Ozuna. Have you ever heard anyone ever refer to anyone in that group as a superstar?

I understand it’s easy to like a guy who’s only 26 years old with a career .388 OBP and 10 WAR 2015 season on his resume.  But the more you look at the production instead of the name, the more that season looks like the exception.  The 2.9 average among his other six MLB seasons seems to be the norm.

Again, good player.  Not superstar.

Who’s going to be the team to not make that distinction?

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