Am I an idiot? Bryce is one of the best hitters of our generation right? The Millenial Mickey Mantle? The Vegas Golden Boy? I should be kicking myself for even CONSIDERING the idea of not wanting him on the Nats right? RIGHT?!
And yet…I am.
Look, the credentials speak for themselves. Six all-stars, Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, with an absolute TEAR of a 2015 season.
But as a Nationals fan I have the ability to see more than the numbers. Some of the characterizations are unfair. Coming out of high school, and in his early years in the MLB, the guy had a really bad rep.
Umpires baited him, media-types pounced, and overall Bryce was the “crybaby” in a lot of eyes.
Going beyond some of the unfair criticisms lies a small grain of pitching mound sand of truth. The guy cares ALOT. He is emotional, he is combative, that much is a fact. You watch a season of Nats games and you can see it both on the field and with occasional camera shots to the dugout.
Is it a problem? Max Scherzer is intense too, right? Here’s the difference. When I see Max Scherzer giving his all and being a psycho on the mound, I see it as “I am doing everything in my power to help my team win”. When I see Bryce lose his mind I see “I am doing everything in my power to help ME win.”
I’m not in the dugout, I’m not in the clubhouse, I can’t REALLY speak to his abilities as a leader. But I think a fan perspective is worth something, and I have not ever looked at Bryce as the “Leader” of the Nats. We look to Zim, or to Max as leaders.
Bryce cares about Bryce. Is that a bad thing? No. Is it bad for a team that is trying to contend for a championship? In my opinion, yes.
As much as I envy the World Series champs from previous seasons, look at the guys on those squads.
Those were TEAMS. Those guys worked as a UNIT. Did they each have their own stars? Of course. But it was not one guy leading the charge. And the stars that were at the front, would you put them in the same realm as Bryce as far as competitive and combative attitude? I don’t think so.
The point is, I look at this year’s roster without Bryce Harper and I’m excited. I don’t see one guy leading the charge. I see a cohesive unit. I see young studs mixed with guys in their prime mixed with crafty vets. Without Bryce, I don’t see this weight hanging over this team.
If you resign Bryce to a monster contract you will forever have the “Is he worth it” debate for the next decade. It won’t be about the Nationals, it will be about the scrutiny of every action Harper takes, every at-bat he swings and misses. Everyone will constantly be doing calculations “Oh look, is that ground out worth ___ million dollars?”
Without him I’m looking at a unit that can play free, maybe fly under the radar and surprise some people.
None of this is taking into consideration any of the financial impact or handcuffing of the team. The shuffling of the outfield, and any other logistical impacts along the way. This is one fan’s opinion, purely on emotion and gut feeling.
I think Bryce Harper is an incredible talent. I think Bryce Harper could be a hall-of-famer. I think Bryce Harper could win multiple MVPs in the future.
I just don’t want him.