I unfortunately snoozed through part of last night’s Cubs game with the Washington Nationals because Bryce Harper wasn’t playing. Honestly, who can blame me? Harper is one of the game’s most dynamic and intriguing players, having won NL Rookie of the Year last season (I thought it should’ve been Wade Miley, but I’m not complaining too much because both deserved it) and hitting the tar out of the ball this season while playing stellar defense as always. Most fans may remember Harper as the number one overall pick in 2010, the second in a series of can’t-miss picks by the Nationals during their tank-to-the-top team-building strategy that culminated in a playoff berth last season and a contending team this season (albeit one that is struggling).
As an aside, in 2010, the Cubs drafted Hayden Simpson. Yeah, Chris Sale was off the board, bummer, I know…but Mike Olt was taken in the supplementary round by the Rangers (among other choices), so talent was there to be had. Dammit Cubs. But that’s another story for another day.
Today, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post had a great write-up of Bryce Harper’s swing mechanics. Kilgore is a great follow on Twitter and the story contains a video as well as lots of really sweet graphics showing Harper’s contact rates etc. I think it’s worth your time to check this out.
Also, it got me to thinking about Brett Jackson. As you may know, Brett Jackson has serious issues making contact, as his strikeout rate is atrocious. Jackson’s other tools (defense, baserunning, power) are fine, and he’s an otherwise terrific baseball player. But if he can’t get on base consistently by making contact, he won’t be the impact player he was projected to be, and that sucks. The Cubs have been working with his swing this offseason, and so far the results have been “meh” to say the least. He still strikes out a bunch and hasn’t hit for a good average. From my brief observations it seems like Jackson is getting a lot more pitches in the zone that he can’t catch up to because the scouting reports suggest that he sucks at making contact. Might a gander at this Bryce Harper video help him sort out his issues? Maybe, maybe not. It’s one thing to emulate a swing, it’s a totally different thing to be Bryce Harper. But it probably couldn’t hurt too much.
As for me, I can’t see very well out of my right eye, and I watched the video a couple times and noticed that Harper cocks his head at a more exaggerated angle to put his dominant left-eye more in line with the pitcher. Seems like a good idea. I’m usually more of a slap/bunty type of hitter because I have no power, I just try to hit it somewhere that would be hard to field or hopefully past or just over the heads of the infielders. But because the way Harper swings allows him to make better contact all around, maybe there’s something to what he does that could help me in beer league. I’m going to give it a try.
Hopefully Bryce Harper can play at some point this weekend. He’s been a joy to watch, and I think a lot of us can learn from him…but that hair, wow.