WASHINGTON — Charles Krauthammer is known more for his political commentary than sports talk, but opined that Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is the cure for what ails Washington: the 2016 election.
As presidential candidates turn to increasingly bombastic campaign promises and mudslinging, Nats fans have the once-in-a-generation opportunity to see Harper play at a legendary level for 81 home games per year.
“He’s the best baseball player on the planet, probably in the entire Milky Way. (Those box scores are slow in coming in.) And for the next three years, he’ll be playing at Nats Park.
“After that, he becomes a free agent and will command the largest contract in the history of professional sports. He might very well end up with the money-bag Dodgers or Yankees and $500 million. Give or take.
“So be it. By 2019, we could all be underwater or living under Sharia law, depending on whether your doomsday is of the Democratic or Republican flavor. In the interim, I’m going to eat, drink and watch Harper.”
Now only in his age 23 season, it seems premature to include Harper in the same discussion as Mickey Mantle, but Krauthammer points out how the young phenom appears to still be ascending in talent.
“At 16, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the “Chosen One.” At 19, when most elite players are starting college ball, he was the National League rookie of the year.
“For his age 22 season, he was unanimously voted the NL Most Valuable Player, the youngest to score such a sweep. That was last year. This year, he’s even better.”
Even on a team that also features Daniel Murphy–perhaps the best pure hitter to start this season–Harper still leads the National League in homeruns (eight), RBI (22), slugging (.803) and OPS (1.201).
Through 17 games (before Sunday), Harper is on pace to exceed his 2015 MVP numbers in games (153), plate appearances (654), at-bats (521), runs (118), hits (172), doubles (38), homeruns (42), RBI (99), stolen bases (six), slugging (.649), OPS (1.109), OPS+ (195), total bases (338) and intentional walks (15).
Not only is Harper producing more, he is limiting his negative numbers as well. He is on pace to reduce his strikeouts from last year from 131 to about 90, and has yet to be hit by a pitch or ground into a double play.
As Krauthammer closed on his op-ed:
“If you live in Washington, you get to watch this — our own young Mickey Mantle — 81 times a season. How then can you get too despondent about our presidential choices, the kowtow to Cuba or the decline of the California smelt?
“It’s spring. It’s warm. There’s baseball. There’s Harper.”