Bryce Harper's 100th Career Home Run Puts Him in Elite Company

Bryce Harper hit career home run number 100 on Thursday, placing him among some of the MLB's best ever.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of making baseball fun again, there’s one thing we can all agree on:  Bryce Harper can mash.

Yesterday, with the Washington Nationals down a run and the bases loaded, Harper stepped to the plate to face Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves, and with his bat game on 100.

Harper must have been licking his chops going into Thursday’s matchup against Teheran, as he entered the day hitting .440 (11-for-25) off of the right-hander with 7 extra-base hits, 4 of which went for home runs. Teheran was able to retire Harper in his first at-bat but was not so fortunate in his second plate appearance.

Harper’s blast wasn’t a cheap one either. With an exit velocity of 109.6 miles per hour, it was the 25th-hardest hit home run this season and traveled a distance of 429 feet. Surprisingly, after more than 2,100 plate appearances in the big leagues, Harper finally hit his first grand slam. Fittingly, it was also his 100th career home run.

You would think the void of a grand slam on Harper’s resume would imply poor numbers when batting with the bases juiced, but you know what they say about assumptions. 

Prior to Thursday's game, Harper had 27 career at-bats with the bases loaded and had 10 hits, good for a .370 average, and 26 runs batted in. This roughly equates to a run driven in on every one of his at-bats with the bases loaded, and that was before he drove in four with one swing yesterday. Impressive stuff for a hitter of any age, let alone a 23 year-old.

Harper’s 100th career home run at such a young age put him in exclusive company. He became the eighth-fastest hitter to reach the century mark.

Player Age at 100th Home Run Career Home Runs  
Mel Ott 22 years, 132 days 511
Tony Conigliaro 22 years, 197 days 166
Eddie Matthews 22 years, 292 days 512
Alex Rodriguez 23 years, 16 days 688
Andruw Jones 23 years, 62 days 434
Miguel Cabrera 23 years, 127 days 409
Johnny Bench 23 years, 161 days 389
Bryce Harper 23 years, 181 days 100

Of the seven hitters who reached the milestone faster than Harper, only one went on to hit fewer than 390 career home runs, and that was due to an unfortunate injury to Tony Conigliaro. There’s no guarantee Harper reaches the once prestigious 500 home run club -- or even the 400 home run club -- but the odds appear to be in his favor.

Harper’s career Isolated Power (ISO) of .232 is the 15th-highest mark from 2012 (Harper’s rookie season) to 2016 and would rank 68th all-time. His .319 ISO from last season doesn’t even crack the top-100 of best single-season performances, but should he continue to post seasons with a .260 ISO or better -- our projections forecast a .268 ISO for Harper in 2016 -- he’d soon make his way into the top-20 for best career ISO.

Last season was the first time he broke the .260 mark (or even the .212 mark), but considering it was his first full, healthy season, who’s to say he doesn’t have another .300-plus ISO in him for 2016?

Nationals fans should be fired up at the thought. We know Harper is.