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  1. Oyster Burns and Buttercup Dickerson have to be the 2 greatest names in the history of baseball.

    Oyster Burns — that’s what happens when they’re not cooked. I bet he went on the 15 day D.L. for that.

    Comment by chuckb — May 29, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  2. I clearly remember the gushing front-page story SI had on him several years and thinking that this kid couldn’t possibly be as good as they said he was, and it seems a lot of people agreed with that at the time.

    It’s surreal to think that they might have been right all along.

    Comment by Joel — May 29, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  3. No injury’s more painful for a man than when he burns his oysters.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — May 29, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  4. I really hope he does well.

    I remember seeing Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential saying not to expect anything good out of him simply because 19-yo performing well in the majors is unheard of and history is against him.

    Comment by Eddy — May 29, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  5. “Oyster” Burns later rose to great fame in business as C. Montgomery Burns, and, even to this day, inspires fear in his opponents.

    Comment by MuseumTwenty — May 29, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  6. Why does Bryce Harper refuse to release his birth certificate? Does he have something to hide???

    Comment by Bryce Harper Birthers — May 29, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  7. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Harper dominate. It’s not the most unlikely thing in the world. Sidney Crosby was told he’d be better than Gretzky someday before he’d gone on his first date, and became the best player in the league almost as soon as he joined it. Different sport, but nothing about Harper suggests he doesn’t have the stuff to make it. And it should be much easier to keep the Capitals’ enforcers away from his head.

    Comment by LHomonacionale — May 29, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  8. Hey, does everybody remember when Jason Heyward was having one of the best age-20 seasons ever?

    Comment by Kevin S. — May 29, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  9. remember earlier this year when many people thought Trout was better than Harper? remember those five minutes?

    Comment by jsolid — May 29, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  10. do you watch baseball? trout is clearly ahead of harper, at least right now.

    Comment by doug — May 29, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  11. Just like every other player in baseball, the league will catch up with him and find his weaknesses. How he adjusts will determine how great a player he can eventually be. Seems like a great natural talent though.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — May 29, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  12. I don’t recall those 5 minutes specifically, but they could have occurred on a day where Trout’s wOBA/wRC were ahead of Harper’s.

    Today, for instance.

    Comment by DBA455 — May 29, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  13. Mike Trout is better than Bryce Harper…

    Better numbers than Harper at least

    Comment by Chris Zolli — May 29, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  14. Everyone on both sides quit whining. It’s apples (age 19 rookie year) vs. oranges (age 20 second year) anyway.

    Comment by hscer — May 29, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  15. if 100 PA’s make THAT MUCH of a difference, Harper would’ve hit AAA pitching alot better than he did.

    Comment by doug — May 29, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  16. I’m not sure they issue birth certificates on Krypton

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — May 29, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  17. Here’s the difference:

    Bryce Harper can swing wood.

    Mike Trout gives me wood.

    Comment by Gaylord Perry — May 29, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  18. Here’s a question. When the time comes will Washington be able to keep him a National?

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 29, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  19. it’s interesting that, if he produces according to his zips ROS projections, he’ll tie age-19 mickey mantle in wRC+, because that’s exactly who i was thinking of on saturday watching him fly around first to take an extra base on a lackadaisical return throw from jason heyward, then hit a line drive to the opposite field that cleared the wall. he hasn’t looked overmatched whatsoever in his first 100+ plate appearances — very similar in approach, plate discipline, and aggressiveness on the base paths to heyward a couple years ago — and if he can stay healthy, he’s going to have a very special career.

    Comment by midgley's folly — May 29, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

  20. Yes.

    Next question?

    Comment by RobBob — May 29, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  21. That’s it – that’s the whole list. In the last 112 years, seven guys have played more than a half season in the Majors while being above average hitters: FALSE

    Comment by Richard Oyster Burns — May 29, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  22. Sure, the league will figure a few ways to attack him better, but pitchers are being pretty tough on him already. At that age I can’t help but notice the BB% and K% more than anything. He’s only getting pitched to in the zone 39% of the time and seeing fewer fastballs than 99% of the hitters out there. He’s obviously smart and disciplined. I’m not sure if the higher K rates most were projecting will show, and I wonder if he’ll stick closer to the 14-18% range

    Comment by baty — May 29, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  23. It’s a good thing he doesn’t play for the Rays or I would routinely throw saltines at him.

    Comment by Luke Scott — May 29, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  24. i hate to pile on, but dude, you gotta think before you comment. you just look like an idiot otherwise, ESPECIALLY when its a smart ass comment.

    Comment by Sleight of Hand Pro — May 29, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  25. It seems like the late 19th century was just the golden age of American names. Old Hoss Radbourn. Honus Wagner. All you have to do is look at the baseball reference Elo-rater and it seems like every other name is hall of fame worthy on its own.

    Comment by Bip — May 29, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

  26. Most overrated guy in baseball

    Comment by Will — May 29, 2012 @ 2:13 pm


    Suppose that you have a 20-year-old player and a 21-year-old player of the same ability as hitters; let’s say that each hits about .265 with ten home runs. How much difference is there in the expected career home run totals for the two players?”

    As best I can estimate, the 20-year-old player can be expected to hit about 61% more home runs in his career. That’s right—61%.

    Comment by Ben — May 29, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

  28. Why can’t people just accept that they’re both great young baseball players and leave it at that? Harper has immense power and a cannon for an arm, Trout has great speed and defense…both guys will be perennial All Stars and exciting to watch for years, why can’t that be enough?

    Anyway, to do what Harper’s done with just 430-ish minor league plate appearances is remarkable. I thought he’d look lost with such a short professional track record and he has, at times. But largely he’s looked like a 19 year old kid who could very well be the best hitter on that team already.

    Comment by Ray — May 29, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  29. How did you come to that conclusion? I didn’t see any charts on the link you provided that indicate the vast difference between projected home runs. A difference of 61% of career home runs seems way too big to be realistic, unless the data is skewed by a lot of players having short careers and thus low home run totals. Could you elaborate?

    Comment by drewcorb — May 29, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

  30. He definitely looks like he belongs, and is already one of the best position players on his team.

    Just a suggestion for the site though -
    Can you please you expand the topic box that shows all the days articles so that we can actually read the entire title of the article before clicking on it?
    Its rather annoying that almost every topic title gets cut off, when there is tons of empty space on the web page that isnt being used.

    If you arent sure what im talking about, look at this screen shot I tok and try to read all the titles:

    Comment by cs3 — May 29, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  31. 149 PA is half a season?

    Comment by Eric R — May 29, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  32. No. He will be a New York Yankee when he is 26 years old, and baseball will love to hate it.

    Comment by Joe — May 29, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  33. drewcorb– that quote is right from the link and attributed to Bill James himself :)

    Comment by Eric R — May 29, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  34. Just like Braun and Longoria

    Comment by Bill but not Ted — May 29, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  35. They aren’t even in the same food group right now. Trout has a lot more experience logged in above A ball, and Harper has the whole learning to play all 3 outfield positions thing on his plate too. Trout is much more seasoned than Harper even though there’s only about a 1 year difference in age. It’s not even worth comparing the two as is.

    Comment by baty — May 29, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  36. Yup, read the article. It’s fascinating.

    Now that the explanations are out of the way: wow. Over the 32 years combined, the youngest players in each year’s draft were expected to produce slightly less value than the oldest players, because on average they were taken with slightly later draft selections. Despite that, the five youngest players in each year returned MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH VALUE as the five oldest players. If you adjust for the fact that the older group had a slightly higher expected value on Draft Day, the younger group had a return that was 117% higher than the older group.

    Comment by Ben — May 29, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  37. Yes actually.

    Why such a quick ‘Yes”?

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 29, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  38. Not sure why this got voted down. I noticed the same typo as well. It should be ‘seven teenagers’ or otherwise work in the fact that we’re talking about teenagers. There have been far more than 7 guys in the history of the sport who have been above average hitters while playing half a season.

    None of this is to say that I didn’t know we were talking about teenagers. But it’s still a typo.

    Comment by GoToWarMissAgnes — May 29, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  39. This is one of the damn dumbest things ever said. Heyward is dumped on all the time despite the fact he’s actually a good player (even right now). He has more WAR since he came into the league than Mark Teixeira in over 300 fewer PAs. How many average fans or pundits would say he’s better than Teixeira?

    Has Heyward disappointed since 2010? Absolutely.

    Overrated? No, the opposite is probably true at this point.

    Comment by TK — May 29, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  40. Read the sentence prior to the list.

    Comment by njd.aitken — May 29, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  41. I agree, this has impressed me the most. Pitchers are already throwing a lot of soft stuff with movement down and away, and avoiding pitching him hard and inside. I know this isn’t exactly rocket science for a power hitter, but it usually seems like most pitchers, against batters that haven’t seen their stuff before, especially against a rookie hitter, will attack hard.

    Maybe this has something to do with all the hype, though. After all, if we’ve been hearing how good Harper is for so long, so have these pitchers and their coaches, so perhaps the approach on him has been more studied than with most rookies.

    Regardless, it is impressive that Harper is having success at 19, and that he’s having that success even though he’s been the focal point of the opposition.

    Comment by Nathan — May 29, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  42. I understand the importance of precise language, but c’mon. The point of the article still stands and is well thought out. Don’t shit on the article because of a silly pronoun mistake/missing adjective…

    Comment by Nathan — May 29, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  43. Ken Griffey Jr’s father is his Johan Santa

    Comment by AA — May 29, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

  44. Ok I look like an idiot. My excuse is that I’m at work so I just skimmed the figures without reading the article yet. I’ll read the article before making another comment.

    Comment by drewcorb — May 29, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  45. Braun and Longoria didn’t have Scott Boras as an agent. I’m not saying that the Nats won’t keep Harper, but it won’t be on an extension four years before free agency.

    Comment by Kevin S. — May 29, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  46. Everyone on that list had seasons of 300+ plate appearances, but Bryce Harper does not. As such, it’s probably a little too soon to anoint him as belonging in the company of Mantle, Cobb, and Ott. We learned last year that Jason Heyward is human after all; I’ll bet we’ll find out at some point this year, as pitchers and scouting reports adjust, that Bryce Harper is too.

    That said, he’ll probably still be a human who’s pretty good at baseball.

    Comment by Jon L. — May 29, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  47. This does remind me some of the Heyward article.

    What I would have found more interesting would be the best first 121 PAs in history. How well does he rank on that list? What are the other names on that list? How did the other players do for the rest of the season, and the rest of their careers?

    I realize that you are expecting regression to the mean, and used the regressed ZIPS ROS projection for that. You mentioned that he only has to be slightly above average for the rest of the season to be in elite company. But, do other phenoms that have gotten off to hot starts tend to keep up above average production? You’ll run into sample size issues when looking at something like that, but it would be interesting to explore.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — May 29, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  48. Off topic, but why would still pick Harper over Trout over the next 15 years? I pick Trout because he’s more well-rounded and just a year older.

    Comment by guest — May 29, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  49. If the Nats are willing to pay the most, won’t that be who Boras wants him to sign with?

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 29, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  50. I don’t know about 121 PA, but Shane Spencer’s first 73 PA were pretty amazing.

    Comment by Dan Greer — May 29, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  51. Harper will have better power. Trout has better speed. One will be a RF one will be a CF, I don’t value one position over the other but some do. Harper is a lefty bat, which seems to be more special more often than not than right handed bat as we look through history.

    They’re both mega prospects. The best two in the past decade and they happen to really be debuting at the same time through the big leagues. In any other year each is the crown gem.

    To answer your question, give me Harper. Though Trout’s make-up is better, nice guys don’t finish first often (see Jay Bruce)

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 29, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  52. 2012 SEASON
    Jason Heyward – .236/.330/.424 / .333wOBA / 110wRC+ = Disappointing

    Freddie Freeman – .247/.303/.443 / .319wOBA / 100wRC+ = SO MUCH POTENTIAL!!!

    Comment by Howie — May 29, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  53. Sure, but it will likely happen in free agency, not before it. Harper’s his next A-Rod. I can’t see him giving up on a chance to shop him to all thirty teams.

    Comment by Kevin S. — May 29, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  54. I can’t speak for the Oyster Burns, but I wasn’t trying to shit on the article. I agree it was interesting. Between this and the Adam Jones extension piece, Dave’s churned out a couple gems in the past week. Also, I wish fangraphs had some sort of way for readers to point out/send in grammar/spelling/fact mistakes besides the comments section. I don’t particularly like to complain in a public forum.

    All that said, it’s still a mistake. It doesn’t matter if the sentence preceding the list said teenagers. The sentence, as written, is false. It might be minor, but I noticed it while I was reading it and others obviously did as well. It should be fixed.

    It’s still a great article.

    Comment by GoToWarMissAgnes — May 29, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  55. There’s really been no indication out of DC, Harrisburg, or Hagerstown that Bryce Harper is anything other than a total team player with a great work ethic and a desire to be “one of the guys.” The knock on his “make-up” is mostly manufactured by national media to make him mandatory TV. See for example: how he handled Cole Hamels.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — May 29, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  56. In the long run Harper is going to be the better player. His ceiling is much higher than Trout’s ceiling. In a fair stadium, Harper has the type of power that could one day be putting up 50-60 homer seasons.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — May 29, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  57. Hey, in paragraph four he writes “Gehring” instead of “Gehrig” — bit disappointed you didn’t slam him for that, too.

    Comment by Sam Samson — May 29, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  58. So says Adrian Beltre!

    Comment by chuckb — May 29, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  59. Was anyone who read the article genuinely confused about whether or not we were just talking about teenagers here?

    I don’t mind legitimate semantic criticism in order to help clarify an author’s point, but sniping about bullshit like this just makes one look petty.

    Comment by chuckb — May 29, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  60. Harper vs Trout is a crapshoot. I read, and this was definately lofty but it makes the point, that Trout’s ceiling is Willie Mays, Harper’s is pre roids Barry Bonds.

    Either way that’s pretty awesome.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — May 29, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  61. Poopy

    Comment by FuckDaveCameron — May 29, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  62. Rocco Baldelli. Shame he couldn’t get it together.

    Comment by Dave K — May 29, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  63. Sure, but I’d also argue that Frank Thomas and Albert Pujols probably had/have 50-60 HR potential. They just didn’t build their approach to accommodate it. Bryce will probably put up the larger home run numbers, but it might not be by much. Both have the potential for 70+ extra base hits including 30+ home run potential. Both seem talented enough to influence their batted ball data with an intended approach.

    Both Trout and Harper have shown very balanced GB/FB rates so far. I was surprised to see that… I thought Trout would surely enter with a heavier GB rate. I also thought that Harper might start off with a higher FB rate, even at only 19 years old. It leads me to believe that the two of them could go either way. Bryce might view himself as a BAVG contender. If he does, he might be more of a 1 for 1 2B/HR kind of guy. With those first couple of doubles he hit off the wall to start his career, that approach, those swings, and the result didn’t look like the lower BAVG, higher K rate, and high FB/HR kind of guy I was expecting. Not that two hits will tell the whole story…

    Comment by baty — May 29, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  64. FDC: You know you just come across like a hostile dickhead, right?

    Comment by ben — May 29, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

  65. Trout or Harper? I hope we get to watch these guys battle it out for the best players of this era for the next twenty years or so. I think their are 28 teams that would love to have the problem of one of them. Hopefully this ends up being Mays vs. Mantle part 2.

    Comment by yo-yo — May 29, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  66. I’m pretty sure it got voted down because there are constructive ways to point out typos, and then there’s douche-baggery. “: FALSE” counts as the latter. Especially when your own comment requires more reading between the lines than the one created by and mocked for having a typo, one should expect a negative response.

    Comment by KDL — May 29, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  67. Well, the did, but they’re all burned up.

    Comment by philosofool — May 29, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  68. Not really sure about this. Once you neutralize small sample BABIPs, these two guys look very similar at hitters. Same with defense (which basically regresses to zero with so few appearances.) Add to that that Harper’s season is just destroying what Trout did one year ago at 19, Harper sure looks to be embarrassing people who selected the Angels as the best prospect in baseball.

    Comment by philosofool — May 29, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  69. I like Harper better, but obviously there’s a lot of unpredictability here.

    Trout’s peripheral numbers aren’t as strong. Speed is a secondary tool. But obviously he has plus-plus defensive potential and could certainly post .900 OPS seasons. Still, I see (back in the day, good) Grady Sizemore as his ceiling.

    Harper has a better power tool than Stanton according to some scouts and he has a surprising ability to make contact with all that power. That, to me, says he could hit on the level of Hank Aaron or Mickey Mantle. Or Barry Bonds, if he develops a great feel for the zone. I haven’t watched Trout as much, but Harper has an outstanding ability to hit to all fields and great baseball instincts. He’s a been a brilliant base runner.

    Comment by philosofool — May 29, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

  70. One of the many reasons the Jayson Werth contract was so bad is that the Nats will be still paying him $15 mil or more when the time comes to try to sign Strasburg and Harper.

    Comment by RL — May 30, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  71. I guess I would have simply said that Cobb, Mantle, Ott and Griffey are obviously among the all-time greats without making it sound like the Hall of Fame is what is needed to validate them as such. Travis Jackson is in the Hall of Fame, and Pete Rose, Joe Jackson and Mark McGwire are not. Anyone wanna trade McGwire straight up for Freddie Lindstrom?

    Comment by Breadbaker — May 30, 2012 @ 12:11 am

  72. I’m sure he’ll be great but this article is conveniently timed. Like 9 days ago, he was hitting .230 .318 .419
    It looks historically great cause you’re taking his stats while he’s hot WELL before the season is over.

    Comment by Richard — May 30, 2012 @ 1:41 am

  73. “The knock on his “make-up” is mostly manufactured by national media to make him mandatory TV”

    He did wink a t minor league pitcher after homering off him. Not everything is made-up by the media.

    Comment by Richard — May 30, 2012 @ 1:49 am

  74. Don’t forget Nig Cuppy or Dummy Hoy.

    Comment by shthar — May 30, 2012 @ 3:09 am

  75. Different sport is right. Teenagers become stars in the NHL all the time; the hockey HoF is full of players who debuted in their teens. Heck, if you’re not already playing in the NHL by the time you’re old enough to drink (in the US) you’re probably not very good.

    The hockey equivalent to what Harper is doing would be a 14 or 15 year old skipping the juniors and going straight into the league, and holding his own.

    Comment by joser — May 30, 2012 @ 5:38 am

  76. Richard,

    He didn’t wink, he blew a kiss. The pitcher had been razzing and foul-mouthing all the previous batters all night, and there was some playful/frustrated agitation in the clubhouse to show him up when the team got the opportunity. Harper homered and gave his mates the payback they wanted.

    And he hasn’t done anything like it since.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — May 30, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  77. In context, it is perfectly determinate that “guys” refers to guys in the subset under discussion, not the entire universe of ball players. C’Mon, this isn’t a typo, it’s a sentence that needs to be read in the context of a paragraph which it is in the middle of.

    Comment by philosofool — May 30, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  78. RE: Werth under contract when trying to sign Harper.

    According to Cot’s baseball contracts, not the case with Harper. Werth is off the books in 2017. Harper is under Nats control until 2018. It’s almost like it was by design…..

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 30, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  79. I know this post is a day late…but I’m having a hard time with the sentence: “The worst career of the bunch belongs to Cedeno, who racked up +50 WAR by age 30 before injuries and off the field issues brought a negative end to a career that was easily HOF worthy for the first 11 years.” I’d have to argue that the claim of Conigliaro’s career being better than Cedeno’s is just false. I know Conigliaro was young when he got hit, but still, in his 4 best seasons his WAR was 13.5 (yes, that includes a 95 game season, but leaves out a full season in which he racked up 0.1 WAR). Cedeno compiled 24.4 WAR in his first 4 full seasons, including his first full season of 1.9 WAR. Projections of future greatness aside, Cedeno’s actual career was light years ahead of Conigliaro’s.

    Comment by So You Know Its Real — May 30, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  80. Don’t stat him, Watch him.

    He hits ropes every night. Even with the incredible power and bat speed, the #want, the hustle, he doesn’t seem to be like the type of player who will be streaky more than he is steady. It’s a feel thing. Feels like he could go out and hit four balls hard, every single night that he puts four balls in play. That’s what I see.

    Comment by diamondhoggers — May 30, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  81. Sound familiar?

    Comment by Mario Mendoza of commenters — May 30, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

  82. He may be the next AROD but lets remember he’s an outfielder mot a shortstop. Free Angency is also six and a half years away. Lots of things, namely injuries can happen between now and then. Let’s enjoy what we are watching and see how it plays out.

    Comment by yo-yo — May 30, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  83. Trout grew up in the North East, and never played a long JUCO season. Harper was essentially a professional baseball player from the day he graduated HS, at 16 or whatever. Trout’s got more professional PA’s, but I bet Harper has more total PA’s (and batting practice sessions and and professional sports academy coaching).

    Comment by The Real Neal — July 16, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

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