Another Sort-Of First for Bryce Harper

Even when I’m not trying to pay attention to Bryce Harper, he finds a way to capture my focus. Last night, I was seeing off a friend on the east side of Portland, and if I’d been thinking about any sport, it was hockey, since these are the days of the NHL playoffs. A TV was being projected onto one of the walls of the bar, and at first it was showing a minor-league hockey game. Eventually it switched to baseball highlights, which eventually turned to a game between the Nationals and the Giants. The Nationals won 2-1 in ten innings, but what stuck with me wasn’t the result, but rather a Bryce Harper double.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harper rip a Jeremy Affeldt delivery into right field. The ball skidded all the way to the fence, where it was recovered by Hunter Pence, but Harper pulled up at second with ease. He’d score minutes later. I’ve seen Bryce Harper double before, but this one was different. This one was an in-between grounder/line drive, and it was hit between the first and second basemen, and it made it all the way to the wall. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw something like that.

Naturally, I’ve prepared a .gif of the double. It’s the .gif you see below.

HarperDoubleWall.gif.opt

One sees balls get hit to this location all the time. They go for singles, or, rarely, outs, in the event the defense is appropriately shifted. This was a double. Here’s a lousy screenshot of where the ball hit the ground:

harper2_1

Here’s the ball reaching the fence:

harper2_2

Baseball-Reference characterizes the ball in play as a grounder. Gameday calls it a sharp grounder. Its Retrosheet hit location is 34 — that is, it was between the first and second basemen. If you look at the linked chart, you can see this would technically be 34D, or 34 Deep. That’s right in front of 9 Shallow. It’s subjective, but so are most things.

I got curious about any other 2013 doubles hit to this location. So off I went to the Baseball-Reference Event Finder, which brought to my attention eight doubles, Harper’s from Wednesday included. (There weren’t any triples.) I watched all of them on the MLB.tv archives, and it turns out five of those eight doubles were actually down the line, to the left of the first baseman, from his perspective. That tells you right there this data is imperfect, but anyway. There are lots of doubles hit down the lines. I wasn’t interested in those.

I was left with three doubles from this season. Two of them by Bryce Harper. Here’s where one was fielded:

harper1

That, for Harper, was a hustle double. The other double was by Gerardo Parra, and it was also a hustle double, and a much more hilarious one.

ParraDouble.gif.opt

I cut off the .gif because of file-size concerns, but Parra made it all the way to second safely. Here’s the baseball:

parra1

Three doubles, this year, between the first and second basemen. At least that I could find. Two of them were hustle doubles. One of them was a double off the wall by Bryce Harper on Wednesday. That’s how fast the baseball came off of Bryce Harper’s bat.

Which is the whole point of this exercise. There’s lots of evidence of how hard Bryce Harper can hit the ball. Here’s a really fast and impressive home run. The quality of Harper’s contact is most evident when you look at his power. This is the guy who hit that home run off that scoreboard when he was but a wee boy. Harper’s intimidating because he can hit the ball a mile. But Harper can hit the ball a mile because the ball is a rocket off the barrel. We’ve been talking about a sharp ground ball between first and second base. It reached the fence before the outfielder could cut it off.

The ball was by Pence in less than three seconds. It reached the wall in just under 4.2 seconds. That’s after bouncing and slowing down on the outfield grass. I don’t have any reference points as to ordinary times, but just on intuition, and just from having watched the video, those numbers seem incredible to me. I don’t need HITf/x data to know that Harper hit the crap out of a sharp ground ball, which is a weird thing to say. But nobody else has done this this year. Only Harper has doubled off the wall on a grounder between first and second.

The specific point: Bryce Harper hit the baseball hard. The less specific point: Bryce Harper hits the baseball hard. The least specific point: there are more ways than you can imagine for Bryce Harper to be amazing. People won’t long remember the details of Harper’s double off Affeldt on Wednesday. But it could be some time before anyone but Harper pulls the same thing off.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Kevin
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Kevin
3 years 2 months ago

Shorthand: Bryce Harper is going to be VERY FUN to watch in 3-4 years. He’s already pretty damn fun as it is.

tbjfan
Guest
tbjfan
3 years 2 months ago

He reminds me of The Kid

Scott
Guest
Scott
3 years 2 months ago

Yeah, that is a ridiculous double. Another factor could be the weird dimensions in the AT&T park outfield. A lot of the time, the right fielder will shift toward the huge right-center gap to try and cut down on triples. This was most likely the case in the 10th inning. If Harper had the same hit in a more normally arranged stadium, with the right fielder playing in a regular position, the right fielder would probably be able to get it before it hit the wall. Although looking at the .gif again, man that was hit hard.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
3 years 2 months ago

Agreed, Pence is shifted so far toward center that these pull hits will sometimes go for doubles.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
3 years 2 months ago

As a Braves fan, I was hoping to never see that crazy Parra mess again. Now I am sad.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 2 months ago

I was going to say, this article would have been awesome if not for that ugly reminder. Barf.

fergie348
Guest
fergie348
3 years 2 months ago

Yeah, Pence plays pretty far into the gap in AT&T (as most RFs there do) but that ball was absolutely scalded. Now if Davey can get the kid to stop sac bunting the runner over from 1st..

plasmaj
Guest
plasmaj
3 years 2 months ago

you could have added “because Miguel Cabrera is right-handed.” to your last sentence

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 2 months ago

Also because Cabrera would have had to stop at first on this hit.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 2 months ago

Most of the hitters these days who hit the ball really really hard are right handed it seems.

Curtis
Guest
Curtis
3 years 2 months ago

It wasn’t an in between grounder/liner. It was clearly a sinking liner.

Cabrera
Guest
Cabrera
3 years 2 months ago

Yeah, what about grounders hit between SS and 3b?

65Kyle08
Member
65Kyle08
3 years 2 months ago

I did my own clothes but they weren’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself

fast at last
Guest
fast at last
3 years 2 months ago

I too noticed on the highlights how hard the ball was hit, and thought it strange.

playingwithfire
Member
playingwithfire
3 years 2 months ago

The glow on Harper’s talent, regardless of his other attributes, are starting to remind me of Sidney Crosby’s. It doesn’t matter that Harper is bone headed at times and Crosby used to whine and dive a lot. Their talent make them so fun to watch.

Visionary1
Guest
Visionary1
3 years 2 months ago

The right fielder seems out of position. Was there a shift?

TF12
Member
TF12
3 years 2 months ago

I think he’s possibly in position if the pitcher gets the ball away like he wanted to. He’s out of position when the pitcher misses across the plate inside which allows Harper the opportunity to pull the baseball. I can’t say exactly what they were trying to do but if the outfield was pinched toward the gap that pitch doesn’t help try and keep Harper towards the big part of the field.

Blockhead
Member
Blockhead
3 years 2 months ago

It’s almost as if this was addressed in the first few comments.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

It’s weird how so many of the comments are made with the commenter having not read any other comments.

Big Daddy V
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Big Daddy V
3 years 2 months ago

Any excuse for a Harper fanboy to write another article about him. Do you have a shirtless poster of him on your wall as well?

vikedawg
Member
vikedawg
3 years 2 months ago

As a Braves fan I hate that Bryce Harper is looking like one of the best. As a baseball fan he is really fun to watch. What is your problem?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 2 months ago

I totally agree. As a Braves fan in DC, I want Harper to suck, but he doesn’t and he is a lot of fun to watch. I think it is healthy to understand your own cognitive dissonance.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Have you met Anon21?

MonkeyEpoxy
Guest
MonkeyEpoxy
3 years 2 months ago

I’ve seen Josh Hamilton do it, but other than that, nope.

Schuxu
Guest
Schuxu
3 years 2 months ago

Re the Parra play. How often has a pitcher fielded a double, in the outfield?

cs3
Member
cs3
3 years 2 months ago

This is fairly common at ATT.
The RF always plays way over towards center, even with a LH hitter at the plate. You can see how far Pence has to run and he doesnt even come close to cutting the ball off before the wall.
Harper did hit that that ball really hard, but anywhere else and thats just a routine single.

sodakar
Guest
sodakar
3 years 2 months ago

I was at the game, and the moment it happened, my buddy and I both mentioned to each other that:
a) Pence didn’t quite field the ball cleanly.
b) A gold glove RF could’ve kept Harper at first.
c) The fact that you need a gold glove RF to keep that a single is absurd.
d) This probably just cost us the game.

It was the first time I had seen him in person, but between his hustle on that play, and the fly ball that he muscled out into a HR, he certainly left an impression on me.

I’m always impressed that you guys pick up on the little things — my buddy and I were both wondering how many people in the stands actually noticed the significance of that play…

Oasis
Guest
Oasis
3 years 2 months ago

God help the pitcher who gets annihilated by a Harper line drive back at him …

shoewizard
Guest
shoewizard
3 years 2 months ago
Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 2 months ago

Bryce Harper’s so good he’s playing on Astroturf while all the rest of you are on grass.

Matt Schneider
Guest
Matt Schneider
3 years 2 months ago

Cabby has hit some screamers this year resembling Harper’s 34 double.

Max Grady
Guest
Max Grady
3 years 2 months ago

I witnessed both Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar achieving similar types of sinking-liner-like doubles at least a few times a year in the early-to-mid 1990s, but that was on turf. That this Harper event was on grass, yet still maintained strong velocity after making contact with the grass, means that this was one wallop of a wormburner!

The third base ump who tossed Bryce a few weeks back
Guest
The third base ump who tossed Bryce a few weeks back
3 years 2 months ago

No one comes to the park to watch that dude. NO ONE.

People are much more interested in seeing me insert myself into the game.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

You’re John Hirschbeck and I claim my five pounds.

Clint
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

This was an awesome post.

brendan
Guest
brendan
3 years 2 months ago

harper practically won that game himself. He homered for the only Nats run or the first 9 innings, doubled and scored their second run in extras. He also caught a pence drive in the right-center gap that would have put the giants up by at least one run in the bottom of the 8th.

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