Bryce Harper is putting up stats that baseball hasn’t seen since Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth this year, and he is doing it without the help of any batting practice.
Prior to the All-Star Game, Harper sat down with Harold Reynolds for Fox and was asked a seemingly mundane question about what he has improved the most. Harper talked about his improved defence, and then went on to explain that he basically doesn’t need to worry about his hitting and never takes batting practice (BP).
If he really hasn’t taken BP in four months, it means Harper hasn’t faced a pitcher outside of a game situation since spring training.
Harper went further, saying he eschews many of the preparation techniques considered standard for most hitters.
“I don’t watch video,” he said. “I don’t care who I am facing. I don’t care what they are throwing.”
The latter point suggests that Harper doesn’t read the scouting reports every team provides to hitters.
Reynolds’ reaction sums up just how rare it is for a big league hitter to go that long without practicing against a live pitcher.
Frank Thomas, one of the best hitters in baseball over the last 30 years, was asked for his reaction was to Harper’s admission, and Thomas’ facial expression said it all.
Whatever Harper is doing, it is working. He is on pace this season to hit .339 with 48 home runs, 89 extra-base hits, and a .464 on-base percentage. Those numbers haven’t been seen in MLB since 1936 and have only been accomplished by Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig.
Oh yeah, and Harper is only 22 years old.
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