With each passing day, Bryce Harper looks more and more like a legitimate major-league player. Actually, with each passing day, the 19-year-old looks more and more like a legitimate major-league star.
Yes, it's only been five weeks since Harper made his much-ballyhooed debut at Dodger Stadium. And yes, plenty can change over the remaining four months of the regular season. But if he keeps this up, Harper is going to threaten some of baseball's most significant records for teenagers.
Through 32 games and 137 plate appearances, Harper currently boasts a .922 OPS. How impressive is that? Well, only 15 teenage players in modern history have ever amassed 400 or more plate appearances in one season. And only two of those players ever finished with an OPS higher than .757: Mel Ott (.921 in 1928) and Tony Conigliaro (.883 in 1964).
Among those same 15 teenagers, Ott is the only one to post an on-base percentage higher than .358. Harper's current mark: .380.
Ott and Conigliaro also are the only teenagers ever to amass a slugging percentage higher than .420, with Conigliaro's .530 mark the record. Harper is currently slugging .542.
So clearly, Harper is going to wind up in the discussion of the greatest teenagers in baseball history. But here's the thing: He's also going to wind up in the discussion of the best players in the game right now.
Because he didn't debut until late April, Harper doesn't yet have enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leaderboard. But he'll get there soon enough (probably in about 2-3 weeks). And once he does qualify, he's going to rank high up the list in most of these offensive categories.
Harper's .380 on-base percentage would rank 11th in the National League. His .542 slugging percentage also would rank 11th in the league. And his .922 OPS would rank ... you guessed it: 11th.
Is Harper the 11th-best offensive player in the NL? It's probably still too soon to say that.
But if he continues to perform the way he has to date, it won't be long before he's talked about as not only the best rookie in the game, but as one of the best players in the game.