Gleeman: Bryce Harper is Mr. April

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on April 25, 2017:

I realize, given the Nationals’ lack of October success, that using a “Mr. April” moniker in relation to Bryce Harper may be viewed as criticism of some sort. That’s not my intention. Harper has hit four career playoff home runs—tied with Miguel Cabrera, Jimmie Foxx, Johnny Bench, Chipper Jones, and Jose Canseco for the 10th-most ever through age 24—and I have no doubt that he’ll put up plenty of big playoff numbers in the future. For now, though, his opening-month numbers are the ones worth drooling over, because few players in baseball history have ever hit like Harper in April.

Harper is off to a huge start this season, batting .400/.524/.815 through 18 games. He leads the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, Win Probability Added, and WARP, and leads everyone not named Eric Thames in slugging percentage and OPS. It’s not the first time he’s done this, either. Harper hit .344/.430/.720 in April of 2013, when he was playing his first full April at age 20. He hit .286/.404/.714 in April last year. And in his MVP-winning 2015 campaign he hit .286/.440/.545 in April. Harper’s lone “bad” opening month was 2014, when he hit a perfectly solid .289/.352/.422 at age 21.

This will be Harper’s third season in five tries posting an OPS above 1.100 in April while starting at least 20 games. During that same five-season span every other player in baseball has accomplished that five times, combined, and no one except Harper has done it more than once.

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Originally published: April 25, 2017. Last Updated: April 25, 2017.