Harper’s base-running woes continue in loss to Giants
By Daniel Popper
WASHINGTON – On Friday night against the Giants, Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the second inning with a rocket single up the middle. But as he has done many times this season, the 21-year-old slugger spoiled his hit by getting thrown out on the bases because of a mental error.
Harper took too big a secondary lead off first base with Wilson Ramos at the dish, and veteran catcher Buster Posey took advantage, firing a snap throw down the line that beat Harper to the bag in plenty of time. It marked the 13th time this season that Harper either made an out on base during a base-running play — not counting force plays — or was picked off.
Those 13 outs rank third-worst in the Major Leagues this season, which by itself is an alarming fact. But when you consider Harper missed 57 games with a torn left thumb ligament, the outfielder’s base-running errors start to stick out like a…sore thumb.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who is two years older than Harper, has made a league-worst 17 outs on the bases, but he’s done it 118 games. Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is second-worst with 15, and he’s played 103 games. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is tied with Harper at 13. He’s done it in 124 games.
Harper, meanwhile, has compiled his total in 68 games. Not to mention, he’s made those 13 outs having been on base 95 times all season. That means Harper is making an out during a base-running play or via pick off roughly 14 percent of the time he’s on base.
“It’s not alarming. I think that it’s a maturation process. We discuss every time something goes haywire,” manager Matt Williams said. “He does some good things, as well. We make sure we let him know that, and we make sure we discuss the things that don’t go so well. And he learns and moves forward like the rest of us. …He’s an aggressive player, and he’ll continue to be that way.”