Bryce Harper Is Named National League Rookie Of The Year!!!
From The Washington Times:
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper capped a historic first season in the major leagues with the ultimate first-year prize. Harper was named the 2012 Baseball Writers Association of America Rookie of the Year Tuesday night, joining American League winner Mike Trout as this year’s honorees.
Harper, who was 19 during the season, is the first Nationals player to win to win Rookie of the Year and the franchise’s first since Andre Dawson won it for the Montreal Expos in 1977. He hit .270 with 22 home runs, 59 RBI and 98 runs, while finishing with a 4.9 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs.
There were two previous Rookie of the Year awards handed out this offseason with neither going to Harper. But in a one-hour special on MLBNetwork Tuesday night, Harper beat out Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier and Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley for the BBWAA honors. Harper had 112 total points, including 16 first-place votes to Miley’s 12. He beat out Miley by just seven points, but he was the clear winner.
“Just being able to be [mentioned] with the names of Jackie Robinson and Mike Piazza is an honor,” Harper said on MLBNetwork. “To have such a great team that I played for the whole year, they really made this year fun. This was just icing on the cake.”
“He had a terrific season,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said last week. “The ability level, that was as advertised. But he really exceeded my expectations in the way he conducted himself in the clubhouse, the professionalism, the way he interacted with his teammates and really as a young kid showed the maturity and the leadership to go out there and play everyday. He was one of the mainstays on a team [that won 98 games and the National League East title]. He was integral part of that team.”
Harper was called up to the major leagues April 28 — earlier than expected — out of necessity. With third baseman Ryan Zimmerman out with an ailing shoulder and the offense struggling to score runs and support its stellar pitching staff, the Nationals turned to Harper for a spark.
It took him very little time to provide it.
Harper’s debut, under Hollywood’s bright lights at Dodger Stadium, was a raucous night. His first plate appearance was greeted with resounding boos, a testament to the immense hype and attention that had been paid to his every move since before he was tabbed with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft. His first hit was a rocket double. His first stolen base was of home plate.
And all of it was done with the fire and passion that came to be synonymous for the way the Nationals’ phenom plays the game.
The months that followed featured a steady ascension up the historical leaderboards as Harper put together one of the greatest teenage seasons of all time, which he finished with a flourish by hitting .330 in September as arguably the team’s best hitter during a pressure-packed stretch run. As far as history goes, pick a category and Harper is near the top of it.
His 22 home runs were the second most among teenagers in baseball history, with Tony Conigliaro’s 24 the only one to ever hit more. His 98 runs scored second only to Senators third baseman Buddy Lewis in 1936. His 18 stolen bases second only to Ty Cobb. He hit 26 doubles, third behind Robin Yount and Phil Cavarretta, and his nine triples good for fifth all time.
And with each day, Harper continued to learn the center field position a little bit more and establish himself as a significant player there.
Perhaps more impressive than the numbers, though, was the way Harper integrated himself into a clubhouse of players several years his senior without missing a beat. The way he was able to seemingly live up to the immense hype that accompanied him. His every move was watched, his every phrase a possible slogan in the works. Sen. Harry Reid quoted his “clown question, bro,” throwaway line on Capitol Hill after Harper uttered the phrase one night in Toronto.
Harper was an All-Star, a replacement for injured Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, and soaked in the opportunity to spend time among the game’s greats. But struggle followed as major league pitchers began to adjust to Harper’s strengths.
Harper hit just .233 in July and August, but in the season’s final 44 games, he hit .327 with 12 home runs and 26 extra-base hits. He turned 20 on Oct. 16, four days after the Nationals were eliminated from the National League Division Series. Harper was just 3-for-23 in the playoffs, but he tripled and homered in their Game 5 loss.