It is very safe to say that 2018 has not gone the way Bryce Harper would have hoped it would so far. The Washington Nationals right fielder is hitting an abysmal .214 at the All-Star Break, more than 60 points behind where his career average has lied. On top of that, his team, expected to dominate in a division that includes the floundering Marlins and two young clubs in the Braves and Phillies are is just at the .500 mark. But there’s still one thing he has shown he is really, really good at: the long ball.
Harper came into the All-Star break with 23 home runs on the season. He also had 102 strikeouts. It’s a lot, and it’s been a cause of concern. But at his home ball park, he had to make the National League All-Star Team, and he will be starting on Tuesday night as a result. Back to the long ball, where he will be hoping his season will launch from. Harper took part in the Home Run Derby on Monday night in Washington, and he did not disappoint the home faithful this time around.
Harper, like his final round opponent Kyle Schwarber, was forced to go through two rounds of head-to-head competition before making it to the last round. With no offense to the other participants, it really did come down to the end where this event got good. Schwarber jumped out to a massive advantage, hitting 18 home runs in the allotted amount of time. With himself down 18-9 and needing a miracle, Harper and his father, throwing to him for this event, went berserk.
The young Harper would hit nine of the next ten pitches he saw over the fence for a home run. High performance would lead to bonus time, and when the second pitch of that period came, he smashed it over the fence to give himself the trophy. His teammates rewarded him with the trophy, his everyday manager gave him a hug, and the home crowd made him feel very much at home. It was all a joy, yet it also was a plea for him to stay after this season. That might take some time to figure out, but there is no doubt that this night could be what both the Nationals and Harper need for them to get back in the division race and challenge in the playoffs.