Is Bryce Harper a top 10 player? The Washington Nationals’ star player does have a National League MVP Award under his belt but is he also a good enough player for dynasty league fantasy baseball owners to invest in him? This is a debate that continues to take place on social media, with many fans having differing opinions on exactly what his career trajectory is going to look like in Major League Baseball. While some call Harper overrated, some still claim he has the tools to one day see his plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
At just 24, he has a lot of years left in him, but that next Bryce Harper contract has already received a lot of attention. There had been rumors that it could approach $400 million over 12 years, but that chatter died down a little after a rough 2016 MLB season. If nothing changes during his arbitration years, Harper will become a free agent following the 2018 MLB season, making him available to teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. The current question isn’t where Harper will play next.
The following stat line is what Harper posted during the 2015 MLB season. He became the unanimous NL MVP and won his first Silver Slugger Award in the outfield.
Bryce Harper 2015 Stats
Batting Average: 0.330
Home Runs: 42
Runs Scored: 118
On-Base Percentage: 0.460
Slugging Percentage: 0.649
Nearly all of Bryce Harper’s stats took a hit during the 2016 MLB season. His batting average lost 87 points to drop to 0.243, he hit 24 home runs, had 86 RBIs, scored 84 runs, and had 108 walks. Harper did increase his stolen base numbers from six to 21, which was a career-high for him in the statistic. He also led baseball in intentional walks with 20 but posted the second-lowest OPS+ of his five-year career (116).
So where does that leave Harper as Spring Training 2017 continues to play out? A report by ESPN, which ranks the top 300 players for the fantasy baseball season, states that Bryce Harper is a top 10 baseball player. The site has him ranked at No. 10, just behind Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw, but also slightly ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo. As for who is ranked as the best players in baseball, those guys are Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, and Kris Bryant.
Similar results are posted in a report by the fantasy baseball experts at CBS Sports. The site has him closely ranked with Kershaw again, but still ahead of players like Corey Seager, Charlie Blackmon, Joey Votto, Carlos Correa, and Madison Bumgarner. Whether it is based on head-to-head, rotisserie, or points leagues, Bryce Harper is inside the top 10 player rankings. Now, this is based on fantasy baseball output, which doesn’t really take defense into account, but neither do most fans when weighing how valuable a player can be to his team.
Below is a brief look at Bryce Harper’s projected 2017 stats, taking into account what the three major fantasy baseball sites are saying about what his output will look like. Harper’s stats certainly look good enough to help lead the Washington Nationals back to the MLB Playoffs, but not quite as good as some of his biggest fans have projected for the 2017 MLB season. The exact numbers presented are his projected ranges.
Bryce Harper Projected 2017 Stats
Batting Average: 0.278 – 0.287
Runs Scored: 95 – 96
Home Runs: 29 – 32
RBIs: 89 – 99
Stolen Bases: 14 – 16
If he does reach his 2017 projected numbers, Bryce Harper actually looks to be more of a second-round overall selection in a 10 or 12-team league. A lot of value is being given to his stolen bases after posting 21 in the 2016 MLB season. If he can reach that number again, that would certainly make Harper one of the top 10 players in fantasy baseball. It’s his power numbers that seem on the low side, with about two dozen players projected to hit more home runs during the 2017 MLB season.
Still, his baseline projections are quite good and the Washington Nationals would do very well if Harper posts a 0.280 batting average with around 95 runs scored, 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. That talent level would certainly make him worthy of getting selected late in the first round of fantasy baseball drafts. If he can return to the form that landed him an MVP Award in 2015, though, baseball analysts will be talking about Bryce Harper being one of the top five players in the league again.
[Featured Image by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]