The entire baseball world has been transfixed on Bryce Harper since he was the top draft pick in 2010. He entered the Washington National’s system at the tender age of 17 and he comfortably ruled the minor leagues for a season and a half. Now, in 2012, he has become only the sixth teenager in 75 years to hit a homerun in the Major Leagues. He is even the subject of a book called, “The Last Natural.” While I am not sure calling him the “Last” of anything is sound logic, the future holds an indefinite amount of sports legends. But the romantic word “Natural” is much more difficult to refute.
When we label a player as a “natural,” we are actually saying this: They are the “chosen people” of their field. Their destiny is to shine and all other players are merely compliments. They don’t have to work as hard as others because their skills come effortlessly. They are gods of their arena. Maybe that definition borders on hyperbolic, but since when did we begin putting limits on our worship of incredible athletes? The important question is: does Bryce Harper fit the description? Let us take a look back into his past.
He began swinging a toy bat around at the age of three. Typical kid. But at the age of 12 he found a rhythm that created a batting streak of 12 for 12; 11 of those 12 were homeruns. He quit highschool after two years and passed the General Educational Development tests in order to become eligible for the 2010 amateur draft. While waiting for the draft in June, he enrolled in the College of Southern Nevada and took their baseball team to the National Junior College World Series. He won the Golden Spikes Award and was named the 2010 SWAC Player of the Year. He was the first pick in the draft and carried an almost .400 batting average over the expanse of a year and a half in amateur play.
I know it seems that this article digressed into a series of Bryce Harper achievement facts, but each of these statistics points directly toward one idea: Bryce Harper was built to play baseball. Shall we continue?
Harper’s professional career has not strayed far from the path. Critics and naysayers chase shadows as they struggle to unearth evidence that the phenom is the recipient of more credit than he deserves. Bryce Harper entered professional baseball on the wake of what has been hailed “the greatest amateur season ever.” He is currently batting at .241, but has already powered two baseballs over the outfield fence. No player, coach or fan will ever deny his throwing arm’s ability to shoot lasers into the infield from his left-field position. It may be too soon to say for sure that Harper will live up to the hype but he definitely seems ready to adopt even the loftiest of titles: “Savior of the Nationals” and “Baseball’s Chosen One.” Is it obvious yet? There is zero possibility that Bryce Harper was destined for anything except baseball dominance.
So as America continues to write its deep and mystical baseball lore, rejoice in the fact that you are witnessing one of the all time greats from his very beginning. Will Bryce Harper burn out, lose focus, or fail to live up to the standard we have set? These questions are moot. He is a natural. His destiny has already been written and nothing but greatness lies ahead.