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Bryce Harper 2017 Outlook

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Bryce Harper's projected wOBA is 2nd to only trout this year. That means the projection systems which don't know anything about Harper's ESPN hype -- they only see the numbers -- think he's the 2nd best offensive player in all of baseball. Don't get caught up in looking at his performances by season .. look at the complete picture (bigger sample size is always better in which to evaluate a player by).

Edited by EmbargoLifted

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1 hour ago, EmbargoLifted said:

Bryce Harper's projected wOBA is 2nd to only trout this year. That means the projection systems which don't know anything about Harper's ESPN hype -- they only see the numbers -- think he's the 2nd best offensive player in all of baseball. Don't get caught up in looking at his performances by season .. look at the complete picture (bigger sample size is always better in which to evaluate a player by).

This.

He's a lefty with as much power upside as anybody not named Stanton and as much plate discipline as anybody period. Also, he plays in a really good lineup with a fantastic table setter at the top of the order and enough bats behind him to drive him home. And he's just 24 years old and crushing it this spring. What's not to love?

Edited by Dislimb

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THIS ARTICLE FROM BASEBALL ESSENTIAL'S JEREMY FRANK, MIGHT MAKE ONE THINK 2015 WAS MORE OUTLIER THAN THE NORM?  GOES A LITTLE ABOVE MY PAY-GRADE IN TERMS OF SOME OF THE MATH (I TEACH HISTORY) BUT JUST FALLS IN LINE LIKE A LOT OF THINGS WITH HARPER, THERE IS ENOUGH DATA THERE TO SUPPORT WHATEVER SIDE YOUR ON.    I found the increase use of the shift 24% to almost 60% of the time last year somewhat interesting.  

 

What was the reason?

One word: (Un)sustainability

Harper had a monster 2015 season; that’s not up for debate. I’d probably even go as far to say it was the best season by a National Leaguer since Barry Bonds. But, why? Well, to start, his HR/FB% was insane. A startling 27.3%of the fly balls that Harper hit went over the fence. The only players who can do this consistently are pure home run hitters — only Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, and Ryan Braun have had a better HR/FB% in either of the last two years than Harper did last season. Well, maybe Harper is on that list of pure sluggers, and this isn’t out of the question for him. Here’s how Harper has fared in that category over the course of his career:

Season
HR/FB%
2012 16.2
2013 18.0
2014 15.5
2015 27.3
2016 14.3

There’s a word for this kind of table. Outlier. 2015, in terms of Bryce Harper hitting a ton of dingers, is what we call an outlier. What else could explain this? Well, maybe a lot more of his fly balls in 2016 (and 2012-2014) were hit with weaker contact than in 2015, and that’s why most didn’t leave the ballpark. That seems like a reasonable explanation. How about we look at Harper’s HR/FB% when he only hit the ball hard. This would eliminate all of his weak fly balls, and only look at the ones he hit really well.

Season
HR/hardFB%
2012 43.1
2013 42.6
2014 37.1
2015 55.3
2016 40.0

Again, when Harper hit hard fly balls, 2015 was still an extreme outlier, with his home run percentage still drastically above what his norm is. Some of this is due to skill, hitting the ball in places it’ll go out. However, most of this is due to luck. If he was at that 55.3% mark his entire career, then yes, he is capable of doing it day in and day out. However, when you see that extreme spike one year, and then see it fall back down to his average the year after, it’s more due to luck than anything. And no, Harper didn’t hit an extremely low number of fly balls this year compared to last year. His fly ball% actually increased between the two seasons (39.3% in 2015, 42.4% in 2016). If, in 2016, he hit the ball out at a rate even somewhat close to what he did in the year prior, he still would’ve put up monster home run numbers. Why didn’t he? Unsustainability.

Are there more examples of this? Certainly there are.

As you know, Harper is a lefty. When a lefty starts hitting the ball well in this day and age, you’d almost certainly see teams start using a defensive shift on him. That’s what happened to Harper. In 2015, Harper put the ball in play 394 times. Of them, his opponents utilized the defensive shift during 126 of them (32.0%). Baseball is all about adjustments, and that’s what we saw. In 2016, Harper put the ball in play 399 times. He saw a defensive shift during 234 of them (58.6%). His opponents did, in fact, adjust. However, that’s not why I bring this up. I bring this up because in 2015, Bryce Harper hit unsustainably well against the shift. In 2016, not so much.

The following table displays his wOBA and OPS when hitting the ball into the shift (pulling the ball or hitting it up the middle with the shift in play). This factors out balls he hit to the opposite-field off the shift.

Season
wOBA vs. shift
OPS vs. shift
% of Total Balls in Play
2015 .355 .837 24.9
2016 .244 .572 42.4

In 2015, 24.9% of the time Harper put the ball into play, he hit it into the shift. For some reason, he performed remarkably well when he did. 2016 had conflicting results. He hit the ball into the shift more (because he saw more of them), and performed significantly worse. His OPS dropped over 250 points against them, while his wOBA took a hit of over 100 points. What Harper did against the shift in 2015 was simply unsustainable, and as teams began shifting him more in 2016, the large sample size took its toll. Expect this trend to continue in Harper’s future. Teams will continue shifting against Harper, and it’ll continue to work as it did in 2016.

How about Harper’s platoon splits? How did Harper do against lefties last year, compared to the rest of his career?

Season
wOBA vs LHP
OPS vs LHP
2012 .310 .715
2013 .297 .648
2014 .339 .765
2015 .421 .986
2016 .322 .764

You tell me: which looks like Harper’s true talent level against left handers? His 2015 strikes me as a huge outlier, and it seems that the way he performed in his other seasons are more like his norm.

Something that killed Harper was his uncharacteristically low BABIP, as it was only .264 this season. This has a little to do with luck (or lack thereof). A more likely explanation would have to do with his career-high soft hit% in 2016 (19.8%), which could be traced back to the fact he was playing through injury. On the other hand, don’t expect his .369 BABIP from 2015 to carry over into the future, either. As mentioned earlier, Harper got extremely lucky, and that pace is simply unsustainable.

Don’t get me wrong, Harper is one of the best players in baseball to build a franchise around. He’ll only be 24 next season, and he has already shown flashes of greatness. However, unless he gets super lucky again, don’t expect another 2015-like season from Harper any time soon. It’s just way too hard to maintain over a whole season.

In my book, Bryce Harper is an average-to-above-average player right now. Nothing more, nothing less. We all know what he can be. However, don’t let your recency bias or his insane luck from 2015 raise your expectations of him quite yet.

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you cant just take a really good season and call it an outlier. clearly harper is not as good as his 2015 season but he's not as bad as his 2016 season. he's the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 version of himself all rolled into one. You put more weight on the recent performance but you include ALL of the performance when forecasting his upcoming season. ALL the data matters. This is EXACTLY what projection systems are doing. And every major publically available system has him producing a .280-.290 BA, .400+ OBP, and a .500-.550 SLG. This is not an average to above average player .. this is one of the best offenses forces in baseball at the ripe age of 24 with a ceiling no one yet knows how high. All of his baseball reference comparables are HoFers or guys with MVP seasons in their prime. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, EmbargoLifted said:

you cant just take a really good season and call it an outlier. clearly harper is not as good as his 2015 season but he's not as bad as his 2016 season. he's the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 version of himself all rolled into one. You put more weight on the recent performance but you include ALL of the performance when forecasting his upcoming season. ALL the data matters. This is EXACTLY what projection systems are doing. And every major publically available system has him producing a .280-.290 BA, .400+ OBP, and a .500-.550 SLG. This is not an average to above average player .. this is one of the best offenses forces in baseball at the ripe age of 24 with a ceiling no one yet knows how high. All of his baseball reference comparables are HoFers or guys with MVP seasons in their prime. 

 

 

You can, as this guy did, whether or not you agree with that is your call...which obviously you dont and I am not sure I do either.  

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5 hours ago, JFS179 said:

 

 

 

Disagree with both of you ... I don't think Rizzo's a first rounder, personally.  He's my 4th 1B behind Goldy, Miggy, and Votto.

 

I'd much prefer Harper.

 

Goldy? Fine. Miggy? Debatable. Votto? Hell no. Anyway, this is why I love fantasy BB. So many takes on values.

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16 minutes ago, exm said:

 

Goldy? Fine. Miggy? Debatable. Votto? Hell no. Anyway, this is why I love fantasy BB. So many takes on values.

 

Yup there's lots of different takes on all sorts of things. It's the people that know what they're doing that are winning though.

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4 hours ago, chud12 said:

So much optimism on this thread regarding Harper. I wonder how many of you guys owned him in H2H formats last year because it was so painful after the first month. Anyway Harper has batted over .300 once, has hit 25 plus hrs once, has never had a 100 rbi's and has scored 100 plus runs just once in his 5 seasons. I know he is so darn young but still. We are acting like he has this massive track record of production here when its really only been one year of elite production. With Harper I feel like we are back to where he was the year before his MVP season again where you are betting on upside, taking him over proven first round players and hoping his "injuries" were the reason for his terrible 5 months of the season. This is just how I feel about Harper again, he has the same question marks he had before his MVP season now.. If you draft him at picks 7-12 and he booms its amazing and you get a huge draft day steal but if he flops again and gets banged up, plays through it etc. than you are going to be frustrated at the end of the day with his production or lack there of..  

 

He was injured last season and went 20/20 at 23 years old after an MVP season (considered a down season). I am also not taking Rizzo over this guy. I would beat myself up for it. Worst case scenerio, you end up with a 20/20 outfielder and in my case (since you asked about my H2H league), and probably most, OBP leagues this guy is money. Judging by spring training, that injury is long behind him. Fresh start, I'm banking on 30 HRs with elite counting stats and ratio with 50 HR upside.

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4 hours ago, parrothead said:

Its not just this board, its the entire landscape this year, he is 9th ADP.  going as high as 5th, worst 21st, so not even out of 2nd round in ANY 12-team league?

I get the feeling with Harper, that until he is older and has these ups and downs, the potential and ability will continue to drive his ADP and perception, despite the fact that since being called up to the bigs, he has outperformed his ADP once.    So if he struggles again, I dont think it will matter that much, he will still be young and full of potential and people will just say hit me again Bryce and put some stank on it...

 

Till this year that is how I viewed Stanton. The potential to hit 45+ but never did, didn't steal bases, and disappointed in runs/rbi (except for 1 year) but year after year he was drafted in the first round. 

 

I only have Harper in one keeper league and the disappointment was the same as having Kershaw in another. Both put up great stats for a short time and didn't help in H2H for a large stretch of time. 

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I make the same comp every year, but I feel the need, along with @EmbargoLifted to reiterate just how great Bryce is. 

 

Through first 5 season, both ages 19-23:

Bryce Harper-

2770 PAs 
121 HR/ 58 SB
.883 OPS
139 wRC+

.377 wOBA

 

Ken Griffey Jr.-

3113 PAs 

132 HR/ 77 SB
.895 OPS
141 wRC+
.388 wOBA 

 

Bryce Harper is on an unreal pace as a hitter. I think people allow Mike Trout to overshadow how truly great he's been. 

Could he have a down year? Could he get injured? Of course. Anything could happen. But THIS is why people are willing to take him in the back end of the first round. He's already an unbelievable offensive player, and he also has an insane upside. 

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I'm happy to have him in a few of my dynasty leagues, but in a redraft I won't touch him in the first round. I prefer proven, reliable production from someone who's not injury-prone. Like a Rizzo. But that's just me.

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12 hours ago, Low and Away said:

Till this year that is how I viewed Stanton. The potential to hit 45+ but never did, didn't steal bases, and disappointed in runs/rbi (except for 1 year) but year after year he was drafted in the first round. 

 

I only have Harper in one keeper league and the disappointment was the same as having Kershaw in another. Both put up great stats for a short time and didn't help in H2H for a large stretch of time. 

There are a lot of cases, I was that way with Tulo for many years, in part because I was roto not H2H, in part because SS was so bad, but I often didnt let the injury history impact my evaluation of him.  I think Harper will have a good year, Im not 100% certain of that, I am not saying this that or the other with regards to stats, just kind of a feeling that last years rough patch can be put behind him and I think perhaps the shift did play a role on him, because it probably frustrated him and maybe he tried to change approach/some mechanics and if you have ever had someone making adjustments, etc, it usually gets worse before it gets better because it feels wierd and takes some adjusting.   My frustration if you will with Harper, is that the value for a guy coming off a disappointing season and having really 1 full season of production that would make him a 1st rounder where his numbers are better than guys like Donaldson, etc.  But I will know on Saturday night if there is value or not.   So the way I kind of view it is call him out early, if he comes at a value great, I will take him, if he costs 2016 pricing or near it, and someone wants to pay that coming off that season, then more power to em.  I will find value elsewhere.   

 

 

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I feel like this guy is going to have a Barry Bond like-year where pitchers are scare to challenge him and won't throw any strikes. 

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I'll throw in my 2 cents.  If you want this guy it looks like you'll have to take him at end of the first round.  Let's assume everyone in the first round does what they're supposed to do and Harper ends up being the #2 overall player. If you took say, Cabrera over him, couldn't you live with that outcome?  Was Harper the better pick? Yeah but you got your money's worth from Cabrera and shouldn't regret it at all.  Taking Cabrera there should not be the difference in winning or losing your league. If Harper shats the bed like he did last year, that puts you in a pretty big hole to climb out of.  It can be done (i won the ship a few years ago with Hanley Ramirez as my first rounder) but i'd rather not put myself in that position to begin with.

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I realize when drafting a team whether you personally like or dislike a player shouldn't matter but it does factor in sometimes. Harper's past antics does turn some people  off and some fantasy players will just choose to pass on him regardless of how great they think he is or how great of a season he might have. Have to admit, although I would draft him  I would rather not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by MrBrett
Grammer

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20 minutes ago, MrBrett said:

I realize when drafting a team whether you personally like or dislike a player shouldn't matter but it does factor in sometimes. Harper's past antics does turn some people  off and some fantasy players will just choose to pass on him regardless of how great they think he is or how great of a season he might have. Have to admit, although I would draft him  I would rather not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Antics." I love playing for money against guys like you.

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25 minutes ago, Backdoor Slider said:

"Antics." I love playing for money against guys like you.

And guys like you are the reason I play for free. Playing for money obviously changes things and the EXACT reason I don't. I can pick whoever I want without concern.

Edited by MrBrett
Grammer

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7 hours ago, tingyangs6 said:

I feel like this guy is going to have a Barry Bond like-year where pitchers are scare to challenge him and won't throw any strikes. 

 

You mean like last year where Maddon walked him like 13 out of 19 ABs and "supposedly" got into Harper's head?

 

4 hours ago, MrBrett said:

And guys like you are the reason I play for free. Playing for money obviously changes things and the EXACT reason I don't. I can pick whoever I want without concern.

 

I never understood playing fantasy sports for free, unless its with close friends/family for bragging rights within the group.

 

Many people wont go for upside with their 1st round pick...understandable. Unless you have a top 5 pick, I dont see how you dont even consider Harper, just based on his 2015. But to not draft a guy cause you dont like him?

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1 hour ago, Gryfter said:

I never understood playing fantasy sports for free, unless its with close friends/family for bragging rights within the group.

if-you-re-good-at-something-never-do-it-

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2 hours ago, Gryfter said:

 

You mean like last year where Maddon walked him like 13 out of 19 ABs and "supposedly" got into Harper's head?

 

 

I never understood playing fantasy sports for free, unless its with close friends/family for bragging rights within the group.

 

Many people wont go for upside with their 1st round pick...understandable. Unless you have a top 5 pick, I dont see how you dont even consider Harper, just based on his 2015. But to not draft a guy cause you dont like him?

I agree with this. I really prefer to play for money.

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On 3/15/2017 at 10:06 PM, Backdoor Slider said:

I make the same comp every year, but I feel the need, along with @EmbargoLifted to reiterate just how great Bryce is. 

 

Through first 5 season, both ages 19-23:

Bryce Harper-

2770 PAs 
121 HR/ 58 SB
.883 OPS
139 wRC+

.377 wOBA

 

Ken Griffey Jr.-

3113 PAs 

132 HR/ 77 SB
.895 OPS
141 wRC+
.388 wOBA 

 

Bryce Harper is on an unreal pace as a hitter. I think people allow Mike Trout to overshadow how truly great he's been. 

Could he have a down year? Could he get injured? Of course. Anything could happen. But THIS is why people are willing to take him in the back end of the first round. He's already an unbelievable offensive player, and he also has an insane upside. 

 

Same thing I was thinking. If healthy dude will be HOF by age 29

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5 hours ago, Fuzzy_Slippers said:

I agree with this. I really prefer to play for money.

Its like free poker sites, never understood that one either.  

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4 hours ago, rotodr said:

 

Same thing I was thinking. If healthy dude will be HOF by age 29

HOF though is not about some of these metric stats, maybe they will be by the time he gets to voting, but for now, its a lot about stat accumulation.  

 

Is he gonna get to say 1500 or 1600 RBI?  Would need like a dozen straight years of 100 RBI when he has never had one. 

What about hits and avg?  Looking primarily at RF in the HOF, only 1 see has an average under .280, that was Reggie, Bryce has hit over .280 once. 

When you look at similar batters by age, its a mixed bag.  Huge names like Mantle Griffey, etc, but then also only 30% of the names of the 10 compared by age are in the HOF, some very good players, but not necessarily HOF, guys like Andruw Jones (who actually he really compares with when you look at numbers) or Ruben Sierra or Juan Gone.  

 

Again, this is not to be anti-Bryce or poop on the parade, I love the guys game and hustle, I love watching him play, I would love to have him on my team this year, I just dont want to have to overpay to do it...and when it comes to HOF talk, lets follow the advice of Winston Wolf, and who knows maybe we stop talking like that and maybe he will bring some value. 

 

 

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