In the the first rumor round-up yesterday, I mentioned that “I don’t love getting the occasional scrap, like the Cubs are “expected to check in” on Bryce Harper, which does just enough to keep our hopes alive, while not actually giving us anything concrete or even positive to hold onto, either.” And then immediately fell for another one. Er, well, the same one.
In case you missed it last night, Patrick Mooney seems to have kept the door open for the Cubs to sign Bryce Harper, re-sharing and expanding on that assertion from Jeff Passan that the Cubs would “check in” on Harper next week at the Winter Meetings. Although there wasn’t much in the way of explicitly new information, Mooney’s mere acknowledgement of the report feels like another data-point to consider.
Next week promises to be quite wild, and I’m pretty excited to watch it all unfold in real time. But before Harper gets fitted for a new uniform – hopefully, something in Cubbie blue – I thought it would be fun to take a quick look back at his career in comparison to some of the Chicago Cubs’ core offensive contributors since the start of this competitive window (2015-2018).
Obviously, that leaves out a lot of context for Harper, who broke into the league as a 19-year-old All-Star back in 2012 (as well as someone like Anthony Rizzo, who had an excellent 2014 campaign or Javy Baez who’s breakout was more recent), but it’s just for fun.
And in any case, I think you might be surprised to see just how much better Bryce Harper has been offensively than the Cubs (very good) offensive core:
The highlighted boxes represent the top marks in each category. So if you’re keeping track at home, that means Bryce Harper had a better OBP, SLG, walk rate, soft-hit rate, and wRC+ than anyone else in the Cubs core during this period of time.
On top of that, he ranks second in every single category he doesn’t lead, often by extremely tiny margins, including: batting average, strikeout rate, hard-hit rate, and overall WAR. In fact, the only category he’s not ranked first or second is plate appearances … and he missed that by just three measly trips to the plate!
And as a reminder, Harper (ages 19-21) slashed .272/.351/.465 (124 wRC+) with 60 doubles, 14 triples, and 55 homers in the 1,489 plate appearances that preceded this stretch. He’s really, really, really good at the plate.
So why did I bring this up today? Well, honestly, I don’t have much of motive here. The recent reports that the Cubs are maybe possibly still in it got my blood flowing and felt like reinforcing *just how good* Harper has been, vis á vis some players with whom we’re more familiar. Indeed, if the Cubs need a to add a bat this winter – and they NEED to add a bat this winter – I want everyone to know, Harper wouldn’t just be a supplemental addition. He’d probably be the single best bat on the offense, and the focal point of the entire lineup.
And that’s including guys like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Imagine if one of those guys were a free agent on another team right now and the Cubs had a need for an impact bat. How nuts would you be going to get one of them?