Bryce Harper is the most exciting prodigy since LeBron:
It’s been three and a half years since that headline graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.
In those three and a half years, Harper has grown from a cocky 16-year-old acting like a kid who just made the cover of SI, into a humble, charming, beast of a ballplayer on the diamond.
‘What does Bryce Harper have in mind for his encore? Some Seriously monumental numbers.’
That’s Harper’s second SI cover, which hits the rack next week.
Having won the 2012 Rookie of the Year, he’s already proven to the league he has talent, but raising the bar so high for himself means he’ll have to avoid the dreaded Sophomore Slump in 2013, and raise it again if he wants to build onto his legacy.
“I think as long as this lineup is healthy, he’s in a really, really good lineup,” Tom Verducci – who wrote both SI cover stories on Harper – told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny. “There’s a lot of RBI out there for him, there’s a lot of runs-scored for him, so I think in terms of sophomore jinxes and slumps, I think there is something to that. But I think when you’re this talented, like Trout and Harper are; I’ll take talent any day. And I think that trumps the learning curve that a lot of guys go through in the second year.”
Verducci lauded Harper, and not just for his talent on the field. He praised the grit and determination no. 34 brings to the game.
“The way he plays the game is what we all think we would like to do if we were Big League players and that’s to play the game like we would play it for free and play every single game like it was our last,” Verducci said. “He plays full tilt, but even better than that, he’s a guy who gives you effort with an incredible amount of talent.”
He went on to say that Harper continually impresses him with his knowledge of the game, including its history.
“It’s rare you come across guys these days that know the history of the game and respect the history of the game as much as a twenty-year-old kid does,” he said. “And it blows me away sometimes how much he knows about guys who their careers were over by the time he was born.”
While Verducci does think Harper will show an increase in power and extra base hits in his 20th year on the planet, he’s was skeptical to believe he can match a .326 batting average, which is what the Angels Mike Trout hit at the same age last year.
Hear what else Tom Verducci had to say about Harper below.