Asano: Bryce Harper, the $500 million man?

From Naoko Asano at Sportsnet Canada on June 12, 2016, with mention of SABR President Vince Gennaro:

When Bryce Harper launched a scoreboard-shattering home run into the right-field stands during a game at Nationals Park in mid-April, something peculiar happened: Partway through his home-run trot, Harper abruptly stopped and reversed course. “Harper missed first base!” yelled Charlie Slowes, the Washington Nationals’ radio play-by-play announcer. “He goes back, he retouches. And then he’ll touch ’em all!”

As it turned out, Harper maybe hadn’t missed first base after all—he later explained that he’d tagged the bag with the back of his heel but, wary of how the replay might look, opted to return for insurance. The attention to detail was understandable: Harper had just hit his 100th career home run, making him the eighth-youngest player to reach the milestone. It also happened to be the 23-year-old’s first major-league grand slam—so you can forgive him for overthinking the moment.

Last year’s National League MVP—he was the youngest player ever to win the award unanimously—has been making headlines and earning accolades since he entered the league as a 19-year-old. The Las Vegas native is on a well-publicized campaign to “make baseball fun again.” He also wants to get paid. In recent months, Harper’s been the subject of debate about the possibility that—given his performance, his position as arguably the face of the game and his representation by uber-agent Scott Boras—he could land a record-breaking deal in the vicinity of $500 million when he reaches free agency after the 2018 season. It seems clear that Harper will set a new benchmark, but is he really worth half a billion dollars?

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Originally published: June 12, 2016. Last Updated: June 12, 2016.