Bryce Harper Set a New Major League Baseball Record on Sunday
There's an old adage in baseball that a walk is as good as a hit.
The Chicago Cubs decided to test this theory in their four-game series against the Washington Nationals that concluded on Sunday, with Nats' slugger Bryce Harper compiling a line that was a first for this storied game.
The Cubs made a point to not let Harper be the guy to hurt them, with manager Joe Maddon even saying, "If the other guy gets you, that’s fine. You have no problem with that."
Sunday's game went into extra innings, eventually ending in the 13th inning with a walk-off home run hit by Javier Baez, meaning Harper stepped to the plate seven times with the bat in his hands. Surprisingly, Harper's bat never left his shoulders, although when considering Maddon's plan of attack, this feat becomes much more believable.
Harper saw 27 total pitches on Sunday and only two of them were strikes. He ended up walking six times -- three of which were intentional -- and was hit by a pitch in his other plate appearance, leading to a new record.
Bryce Harper is the first player in MLB history to reach base 7 times without an at-bat (via @eliassports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 8, 2016
Sunday's game raised Harper's on base percentage from .400 to .432, which is a jump of 12 spots and currently gives him the 6th best on base percentage this season. He already had a high walk percentage prior to Sunday's contest, but it now sits at 22.7 percent, just one-tenth of a point behind Paul Goldschmidt for baseball's best mark.
Despite getting on base in all of his plate appearances on Sunday, it had to have been frustrating for Harper to be consistently pitched around. Although if it was, he did a good job of hiding his frustration, as he could be seen visibly laughing during his intentional walk in the 12th inning.
shout out to the bros behind the plate yelling at bryce harper to swing during an intentional walk pic.twitter.com/UQP5eeEPXY
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) May 8, 2016
Unfortunately for the Nationals, the Cubs' strategy to not let Harper beat them worked, as the Cubs swept the four-game series and now own an incredible 24-6 record.