Is Bryce Harper the best player in the majors right now?
That was the question posed to me by CSNWashington.com's Chase Hughes this weekend for the first of two videos we shot after the Washington Nationals' loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon. At that point, Harper, 20, was second in the league in Fangraph's WAR, tied with the Reds' Shin-Soo Choo behind only the Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton. At the moment, after last night's game in Turner Field, Harper's tied for 5th overall in fWAR at +1.5 behind the O's Chris Davis (+1.7 fWAR), the Braves' Upton (+1.9) and the current fWAR leader Dexter Fowler of the Rockies who checks in at +2.0. Harper currently has the Majors' 6th highest AVG (.356) with Indians' Carlos Santana's .386 leading MLH. Harper has the 9th highest OBP (.437), the Reds' Choo is currently pacing baseball with a silly early season .484 on base percentage. Harper's second in SLG at .744, behind Upton and Davis who are tied for the MLB lead at .750. So some quick addition lands Harper second overall in OPS at 1.181 behind only the O's Davis at 1.194.
Harper's 225 wRC+ are tops in the majors. His ISO is 3rd at .389 behind, again, Davis (.398 ISO) and Upton (.446). How far do we want to go with this? As I say in the video below, there's an argument to be made that if Harper isn't the best player in baseball right now he's working hard to get there. ESPN has a one-hour special on Harper tonight at 9:00 which details what motivates the left-handed hitting Nats' outfielder to work as hard as he does, and anyone who watches him in games and in BP on a regular basis knows, he hasn't slowed down a bit since making it to the majors. Some of the Nationals may be off to a slow start, but not their 2010 no.1 overall pick, who's received praise from not only his manager but Chipper Jones and even the Reds' Joey Votto, who made a point of saying how impressed he was with Harper this weekend. Anyway, here's the video:
[ed. note - "And thanks again to Chase for doing the hard work on these."]