Harper’s Top Shelf

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Bryce Harper leads the National League in home runs with eight, the majors in walks with 27, is second in the Senior Circuit with 19 runs batted in and second with 20 runs.

The Washington Nationals’ right fielder is no worse than the second best overall player in baseball.

Harper’s only competition is Mike Trout, the Angels’ center fielder, who has won two American League Most Valuable Player awards and is the highest paid player at $34 million annually.

After this season, Harper, at 25, who throws right-handed, but bats left-handed, will have a Brink’s truck loaded with cash at the ready because with Scott Boras as his agent, he’ll very likely be the highest paid player.

The asking price for Harper, who was the NL MVP in 2015 after smacking 42 homers with 99 RBIs, 38 doubles, 118 runs and a .330 batting average, will be close to $400 million.

Few play with as much zeal and passion as Harper, who has a lifetime batting average of .285 with 158 homers and 440 RBIs.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, said that his father, Ron, inspires him. “I wanted to come out and I wanted to work hard because he worked hard,’’ Harper said of his dad who labored as an iron worker in Las Vegas. “He did it for over 25 years.’’

Harper, who is batting .275 and was the first pick in the 2010 amateur draft by the Nationals, makes $21.625 million a year, and is worth every penny.

Washington was in Southern California this past weekend to play the Dodgers.

It’s been tough sledding so far for the back-to-back NL East champions, who lost two of three and are 10-12.

In Sunday’s 4-3 loss, Harper singled, while in Saturday’s 4-0 whitewash, Harper went hitless in two at-bats, but walked twice.

On Friday, the Nationals emerged with a 5-2 victory as Harper, who had a walk, collected a run-scoring single and scored two runs.

The first time Harper became a nationally known commodity was June 8, 2009 when Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci featured the 16-year-old prodigy on the cover with the headline: “Baseball’s Chosen One.’’

There are always hits and misses when it comes to forecasting future glory, but not with Harper, who was Rookie of the Year in 2012 after swatting 22 homers with 59 RBIs, 98 runs, 26 doubles, nine triples and a .270 batting average.

Harper has played in 19 postseason games, all in the NL Division Series and has been at best average after batting .211 with five homers and 10 RBIs.

Harper’s goal is to play beyond the opening round with the Nationals and help them win a World Series title, but if he doesn’t, it will most certainly be with another team.

Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.


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The Sports Department Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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