2011 Bowman Bryce Harper
I have been around long enough to see my fair share of rookie card crazes come and go over the past thirty years. Some of those crazes were worthy of the hype, while others looked silly and misguided in retrospect. Overall, the craze over a rookie card, or cards, often leads to disappointment in the long run. Even when players meet or exceed the hype, it just seems like it can be difficult at times to justify the prices that collectors will often slap on "the next big thing". For one summer Harper was the biggest thing around the hobby. In fact, I could probably argue his rookie cards might have caused the biggest craze of them all and get plenty of people to go along in agreement.
If I revisited this list again in another thirty years I would venture to say that Harper would likely merit consideration without viewing the rest of his career. Harper has made a journey from high schooler to Major Leaguer in a short time, but the hype and intrigue into his cards has been tremendous to say the least. The summer of 2011 will always in my mind be the summer of Bryce Harper. The summer when any card set featuring a card of the Nationals outfielder either sold out quickly or was priced to match the enthusiasm of collectors. Wal Mart actually sold out of retail packs and for once in my lifetime they may have been enough demand to actually meet the supply of packs and boxes out on the market.
While I am not a huge Harper fan, and did not guzzle the Harper Kool-Aid during the summer of 2011, I did have a little sip. Reasonably, just in case. You never know. I picked up one Harper autograph and also managed to store away all of his base cards and a few inserts too. While the slide has already started on the price of some of Harper's cards I still think he will have a huge impact on the hobby over the next 15 to 20 years. While it's hard to always live up to the hype, it's also hard to fall too far off the hobby radar once you are as popular as Harper has become.
2011 Bowman Bryce Harper Autograph
This is my one toe dip into the crazy realm of Bryce Harper cards. While the price and demand of Harper autographs has cool slightly, this card still remains in high demand and is still pretty valuable. If nothing else the Bowman Bryce Harper card will be one of those iconic baseball cards that everyone owned at some point, or wished they had owned.
On The Field Impact-
Here's where the debate around Harper get a little bit interesting. In Harper's first two seasons in the Majors he has posted lines of .270/.340/.477 and .274/.368/.486 with roughly 20 homers and 60 RBIs. While this has been going on most people interested in watching young rising Major League talent have had their eyes on Mike Trout. The natural conclusion that most people have reached has been that Trout is a far greater player than Harper. True statement. However, they are different players and they are different ages.
On Baseball Reference his Similar Batters include such notables as Armando Rios, Benny Agbayani, and Chris Shelton. We all know how those players turned out, but when age is factored into the equation you get the idea that few players have reached the Majors at the age that Harper has and met much success at all. Factoring in age, his similar hitters at age 20 include Ken Griffey Jr, Mickey Mantle, and Al Kaline. Not sure if he's going to be like any of them, but that's not bad company.
Harper is in his second year and is just 20 years old. Mike Trout is 22. While the Angels left Trout in the minors longer than Harper I do not blame the Nationals for bringing Harper all the way up to the Majors at a young age. Harper was dominate in the Minors and the Nationals need fans. Badly. Harper is a guy who people pay to see and will likely to continue to pay to watch. Again, not necessarily a fan of Harper's, but he is a fun player to watch.
When Harper first came up I watched a Nationals game one night at a bar across the street from my house. It's an interesting place with interesting people. Ironies of all ironies I watched the game next to a guy wearing an Expos jersey who claimed to have been following the franchise since it's time in Montreal. He talked the talk, so I took him at his word. He likened Harper to a talented version of Rex Hudler. If you are not familiar with Rex Hudler he played for the Expos, Phillies Cardinals, Angels, Tigers, and probably a few others. He was the ultimate hustle guy.
While I agree that Harper has a lot of hustle in his game I honestly do not think that Harper is that annoying. Harper has a chance the chance to be a great player, but I hope he can harness all of that energy, hustle, and talent into a long a productive Major League career. I think the Nationals helped him out a little at the end of this season by ditching Davey Johnson.
2013 Topps Bryce Harper Sunglasses Variation
If only he were hitting a home run or making a diving catch in this picture.