There's one thing all Washington Nationals fans have in common (or most, there are always haters/realists):
Unchecked optimism about what Bryce Harper is going to do with his 20-year-old campaign. After a .270/.340/.477, 26 double, nine triple, 22 HR, +4.9 fWAR rookie campaign, Harper's slotted in the three-spot in the order behind Denard Span and Jayson Werth and in front of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the Nats' lineup. He's also moving over to left now that's Span's on board to play center. Can Harper build on the run he made toward the end of the 2012 campaign after a prolonged slump in the middle of the summer? Are more adjustments in his future or is it full-steam ahead for the 2010 no.1 overall pick in 2013? What do you expect from Bryce Harper this year? That was the second question posed to the writers covering the Nats who participated in the District Sports Page's preseason roundtable.
The District Sports Page's Dave Nichols organized the virtual roundtable discussion with local writers covering the Nationals, inviting us all to discuss issues facing the defending NL East Champs heading into the 2013 campaign. Here are the people who participated:
- Dave Nichols - Editor-in-Chief, District Sports Page
- Alyssa Wolice - Staff Writer, District Sports Page
- Ted Starkey - Contributor to DSP, author and Editor at SBNation.com
- Ryan Kelley - DSP Prospects Writer and founder of BaseballNewshound.com
- Tom Bridge - Editor, We Love D.C.
- Joe Drugan - Managing Editor, The Nats Blog
If you're on the Twitter and aren't already following the folks listed above, you should be. Dave Nichols' Nationals coverage can be found at @NationalsDSP. The DSP's Alyssa Wolice is at @AWolice. The DSP and SB Nation's Ted Starkey can be located at @TedStarkey. Ryan Kelley can be found at @BBNewsHound. Tom Bridge and We Love DC's sports coverage can be found @WeLoveDCSports. And Joe Drugan posts on Twitter at @TheNatsBlogJoe.
Our answer, when asked what we expected from Harper in 2013?:
Federal Baseball: "I'm not sure you're going to see the .330/.400/.643 Harper that finished out the stretch run totally locked in, but those numbers wouldn't be that far off from what Mike Trout (.326/.399/.564) did with his 20-year-old season. Once he came out of his slump in the last two months of 2012, Harper had a .288/.349/.553 from August through September/October which is a little bit closer to what the Bill James is projecting for him in his second season in D.C. (.272/.347/.476). I could see Harper hitting 30 doubles, 30 HRs and stealing 20+ bases in a full season.
"Think there might be some learning in left field, but he's picked up everything else fairly quickly considering he was drafted as a catcher in June of 2010 and already has a full season in the outfield in the majors on his resume. It will be interesting to see how hitting in the three-hole affects Harper's numbers since he's likely to have some runners on with Span and Werth in front of him. As Ryan Zimmerman joked in an interview recently, the Nats' hitters are going to have seen 15 pitches every game before the opposing pitchers are through the top two hitters. It's going to be fun to watch."
• Read the rest of the writers' responses through the link below, and thanks to the District Sports Page's Mr. Nichols for organizing the discussion:
"World Series or Bust"--DSP's #Nats 2013 Roundtable Part II: Expectations for Bryce Harper. No sophomore slump here. bit.ly/14c9k7z— District Sports Nats (@NationalsDSP) March 22, 2013