Bryce Harper Is Owning Baseball Right Now
I'm not one to start out an article with a dictionary definition, but I think it's fitting here.
I Googled "phenomenal," and this is what it spit out.
And who am I to argue with the dictionary?
If you're not a Bryce Truther, you might say that particular grand slam didn't clear the fence by much and that it could have wound up another fly ball out in another stadium. Right?
Not so fast.
According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, Harper's second base-clearing bomb would have been a home run in 29 of 30 MLB stadiums, as it traveled a true distance of 413 feet given its projected path before the dude in the blue shirt got rewarded an error and interrupted its path.
That made it his third-longest home run, in terms of true distance, of the season.
In case you're curious -- and because there's never a bad time to watch a Harper homer -- his farthest this season traveled 429 feet.
Bryce Harper hit his 100th home run in grand style. https://t.co/35w8HbD69N
— 120 Sports (@120Sports) April 14, 2016
Yup. That was his 100th career homer and first career grand slam.
That tank happened to bust the scoreboard in Atlanta, too.
— ESPN 980 (@ESPNRadio980) April 14, 2016
Maybe he's not a fan of the Papa Slam ad campaign, but that hasn't stopped him from collecting four RBI at a time now that he's learned how to do it in the big leagues.
His second farthest blast was nearly as long -- 428 feet -- off of Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jeanmar Gomez.
It happened to land in the bullpen bathroom because why not?
— MLB (@MLB) April 17, 2016
If you're sitting there asking yourself if Harper's just experiencing some extra luck to start the season, well, that's a clown question, bro.
However, Harper's ISO (.533) is tops among all big leaguers, and only Trevor Story (.508) also has a mark above .400.
Story also happens to be the only player with more home runs than Harper has (8 to 7) for the league lead, but Story's strikeout rate of 38.1% is fifth-worst among 201 qualified hitters so far this year.
Conversely, Harper's 10.7% strikeout rate is 16th-best. Dude's actually got fewer strikeouts (6) than home runs (7).
It helps when the dongs have come on ill-placed pitches...
...but it's not like getting him to chase is helping.
Harper's 16.1% walk rate ties him for 18th-highest in the bigs, and his plate discipline is making him a tougher out than ever.
Bryce is offering at just 26.2% of pitches outside the strike zone, which ranks 90th among the 201 qualified hitters. However, it's down from his career average of 32.6%.
His contact rate of 82.2% is blowing his career average (75.7%) out of the water, and he's making contact with 92.1% of the strikes at which he offers -- up from a career mark of 85.1%.
He's rocking a career-high hard hit rate of 43.9% (his average is 34.7%), and that ranks him 16th in the bigs this season. Among players with at least 30 balls in play, his average distance of 258.9 feet ranks fifth-best.
Be it swag or stats, Harper is emerging as the most unstoppable force in Major League Baseball and has homered in four of his past five games.
And even though he removed his favorite emoji from his bat, Harper is still out there keeping it 💯 every single day.