Grab Bryce Harper off the waiver wire now, if you haven’t already, because his fantasy baseball ownership will skyrocket.
If you aren’t familiar, I’ll let you read his scouting reports here, here, and here, but I will just quickly note that is definitely is something special and he will ultimate hit 40 home runs per year. (But not this year, so take a deep breath.)
In fact, the Nationals have said that they’ll send him back down once Zimmerman comes off the DL. But this does give Harper the opportunity to hit himself into the lineup and force the Nationals to keep him. Plus, the reality is that if ticket and jersey sales skyrocket, I wouldn’t put it past the Nationals to keep him up. But that’s not the official plan.
Below are some quick notes to keep in mind:
1. Rarely will a rookie turn your fantasy baseball season around, so temper expectations. Careful dropping a solid veteran to get him, especially in non-keeper leagues. (For comparison, Jason Heyward had 18 homers at this age and Ken Griffey had 16.)
Dixon commented to me that he’ll be letting his rivals grab Harper, at least for now, and mentions his adjustment period as his rationale.
While in A ball in 2011, Harper had a solid .318 batting average. After getting promoted to AA, his average was much less impressive, .256. While in AAA this year, he’s down from that (albeit not nearly as much), hitting .250. Now that he’s making a leap to the Show, Dixon expects more struggles as Major League pitchers are a lot better than any of the ones he’s faced thus far in professional ball.
2. Do entertain high trade offers for him. If someone offers you a trade for him that you can’t refuse, then don’t refuse it. If the hype bug bites another owner then be willing to take advantage of that if it will help your team.
3. But hold on to him in keeper leagues. Put your tiny little hand around him and don’t let him slip out of your kung-fu grip. It’s keeper leagues where Harper has the most value, obviously.
4. Before you see a single at bat, his talent level is worth at least to give him a look only in your UTIL slot or as a 4th outfielder. What the heck, right? He has the potential for 16-20 homers, even as a rookie, assuming that everything breaks right and he indeed stays in the Majors.
Again, it’s Dixon who suggested that we aren’t talking about a player who plays a premium position (catcher, second base, short stop, center field), where you would be more on board with nabbing him up. If you’re in a league that used three different outfield positions, Harper plays the deepest, at right field. If you use only outfielders, then you have a deep talent pool to draw from.
5. Remember, Harper’s value isn’t in this year. In a keeper league with a supremely deep bench, you might consider adding him as “future” pick, because Harper does have an incredibly bright future. But look for him to struggle quite a bit this season, especially in the early going. He’ll hit some impressive homers, but they will be few and far between.
Make a “risk/reward” assessment. Do you feel like Harper is worth the “risk” of dropping that 3rd bench player that rarely sees playing time in your lineup, in order to take at shot at the future “reward” he’ll bring.
What do you think? Do you believe the scouting reports or do you think that Harper is worth the hype? Let us know in the comments.