What a difference a year makes.
After missing 59 games to injury last season, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has opened the 2015 season on a tear, needing only 42 games to surpass many of his 2014 statistical totals.
Hitting just .265 through May 5, Harper exploded on May 6 against the Miami Marlins, going 3-for-4, with three homers and 5 RBIs, while raising his average to .284.
Harper has hit 11 home runs through 20 games in May, and leads the National League with 16 thus far on the year. In 100 games last season, he hit just 13 home runs.
He has already surpassed his RBI total from a season ago, driving in 39 runs to this point in the season, while also walking 38 times, tying him with his walk total from last season.
A greater understanding and display of plate discipline has allowed the 22 year-old Harper to walk more this season, while striking out less often, ranking him 12th in the majors with a 0.88 BB-to-K ratio.
Harper’s patience at the plate and increased statistical output this season is reflected in the Nationals overall success, with the team presently seated in first place in the NL East, a game-and-a-half ahead of the New York Mets.
In his rookie season of 2009, Harper appeared in 139 games and hit .270 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs. He went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and also made the first of two All-Star game appearances thus far in his career.
With his hot start to 2015, Harper is on pace to exceed those numbers and, if he can stay healthy and productive, should easily find himself in the discussion for NL MVP at the end of the season.