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Bryce Harper's late-season surge has put him back in the Rookie of the Year race.
As the MLB playoff race began to heat up after the All-Star break, and as Bryce Harper cooled down, the non-stop comparison between Harper and fellow rookie Mike Trout faded away as the season's biggest storyline. Trout ascended to a prime AL MVP candidate, and Harper started looking like the 19-year-old rookie that he was.
But while Trout has continued to out-pace Harper over the course of the entire season, recently it's been Harper with the better numbers. Over the last month, the Nationals center fielder has outperformed Trout in nearly every statistical category.
Take a look at their splits over the last four weeks...
G AVG OPS HR RBI R 3B SB
Harper 25 .305 .988 6 13 23 4 4
Trout 24 .247 .750 3 4 18 0 5
Harper’s batting average is 58 points higher and he has the edge in OPS by 238 points. Not only are the differences significant, but so is the timing. Both players bat near the top of the order on teams in playoff races, with the Nats looking for a division title and the Angels chasing the AL Wild Card.
Harper may not be in consideration for the National League MVP award, as Trout will be in the AL, but he has put himself back in the mix for NL Rookie of the Year. The two most-discussed candidates are Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (26) and Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley (25). Frazier is the easiest to compare directly as a position player, but many of his numbers don't stack up to Harper...
G AVG OPS HR RBI R 3B SB
Harper 133 .264 .799 21 58 94 9 17
Frazier 123 .278 .845 19 65 55 6 3
Harper has more homers, 14 more stolen bases and 39 more runs scored than Frazier. Both players are on first-place teams, but Harper has made more of an impact on his team’s success.
Miley has been the favorite for the award for much of the season after going 9-5 with a 3.04 ERA in the first half. But since being named an All-Star, he's gone 7-6 with a 3.65 ERA. His overall numbers (16-11, 3.32 ERA, 187 innings) still look good for a rookie, but Harper has contributed to a much better team. The Diamondbacks are a .500 club, but won't be participating in the playoffs.
One other player that could have a say is Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario, who has come on strong in September and leads all rookies in homers (27) and RBI (70). He does, however, play on the second-worst team in the majors and has not displayed the variety of tools Harper has shown. Harper has been one of the best defensive center fielders in the game and also ranks second among NL rookies in stolen bases.
It could come down to Harper and Miley, who likely has one more start before the season comes to a close. The Nationals have six games left on their schedule, so Harper will need to continue his surge. But whether he earns the award or not, his pick up in play couldn’t have come at a better time for Washington.