Bryce Harper was named the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year tonight by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The Nats' 20-year-old outfielder beat out the Arizona Diamondbacks' lefty Wade Miley and the Cincinnati Reds' Todd Frazier to win the award after one of the best seasons in baseball history by a teenage major leaguer.
Harper had a total of 130 games and 536 plate appearances on his resume in the Washington Nationals' organization over which he had a .289/.382/.479 line with 28 doubles, three triples and 18 HRs by the time the Nats called the then-19-year-old up to make his MLB debut on April 28th in Los Angeles. The 2010 no.1 overall pick was coming up because the team needed him D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained after announcing that the top prospect in the system would be called up from Triple-A Syracuse. "It's to support the major league club in really a time that we need an offensive player that can play corner outfield," the general manager told reporters, "It was a choice between a couple of players on the farm, Tyler Moore and Bryce Harper. Tyler Moore just didn't have the experience to play left field at the major league level yet."
Harper was coming up earlier than planned, the GM admitted and he wouldn't commit either way when asked if the outfielder was up for good. "Suffice it to say, this isn't the coming out party for Bryce that we had in mind," Rizzo said. "This isn't the optimal situation developmentally for Bryce," who had a .243/.325/.365 in 21 games and 84 ABs in his first go-round at Triple-A, though he had begun to pick things up. "As usual he started off the season fairly slowly," the Nationals' GM explained, "but the last 10 games he's hitting .290 with a [.421] on base percentage and some power numbers. The last six games he's hitting .313 with a home run."
The rookie outfielder got the slow start that had become routine for him at each new level out of the way at Triple-A. In his first month-plus in the majors, Harper had a .274/.357/.504 line with six doubles, four triples and four home runs in 30 games and 129 PAs. In the first half of his first season, the outfielder had a .282/.354/.472 line with 15 doubles, four triples and eight home runs in 63 games and 277 PAs, earning (after a series of injuries opened up a spot) an All-Star selection in his first season. In July and August, however, Harper struggled, putting up a .233/.299/.386 line with six doubles, two triples and seven home runs in 52 games and 226 PAs.
Down the stretch in September/October though, Harper figured things out. In his last 31 games and 126 PAs as the Nationals locked down the NL East, the outfielder put up a .330/.400/.643 line with eight doubles, three triples and seven home runs in the final month of his rookie season. Asked during an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. in September if he thought Harper had earned the NL's Rookie of the Year Award, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told the show's hosts, "He'd get my vote."
"I wouldn't trade him for any of the other two," Johnson said, referring to the D-Backs' Wade Miley and the Reds' Todd Frazier who were expected to and did get named as finalists for the NL ROY along with Harper. "The year [Harper's] had?," Johnson said, "Same thing. I think he's been energy, scored a lot of runs for us, got on base a lot, played great defense. He's been great." Harper finished the year with a .270/.340/.477 line, 26 doubles, nine triples and 22 HRs in 139 games and 597 PAs over which he was worth +4.9 fWAR.
Miley, the D-Backs' 25-year-old, '08 1st Round pick, was (16-11) in a +4.8 fWAR 2012 season in Arizona, posting a 3.33 ERA and 3.15 FIP with 37 walks (1.71 BB/9) and 144 Ks (6.66 K/9) in 29 starts, 32 appearances and 194.2 IP. Cincinnati's Frazier, a 26-year-old '07 1st Round pick, had a .273/.331/.498, +2.8 fWAR 2012 season with 26 doubles, six triples and 19 HRs in 128 games and 465 PAs.
The Baseball Writers Association of America agreed with the Nats' manager and announced tonight that Harper had won the voting for the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year. Harper is the first Washington Nationals player to win the award.
NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper. Full voting ow.ly/feBmL— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) November 12, 2012