As the MLB playoff race began to heat up after the All-Star break, and as Bryce Harper cooled down, comparing Harper and fellow rookie Mike Trout faded away as the seasons biggest storyline. Trout ascended to a prime MVP candidate and Harper started looking like the 19-year-old rookie that he was.
But though Trout has continued to outpace Harper over the course of the entire season, recently it has in fact been Harper with the better numbers. Over the last month the Nationals outfielder has outplayed Trout in nearly every statistical category, including batting average and runs.
Take a look at their statistical splits over the last 28 days:
Harper (831 to 927)
25 G - .305 BA - .988 OPS 6 HR 23 R 13 RBI - 4 3B 4 SB
Trout (831 to 926)
24 G - .247 BA - .750 OPS 3 HR 18 R 4 RBI 0 3B 5 SB
Notice Harpers batting average is over .50 points better and his OPS is higher by more than .200. Not only are the differences significant, but so is the timing. Both players bat at the top of the order on teams in playoff races with the Nats looking for a division title and the Angels chasing the wild card.
Harper may not be in consideration for the National League MVP award, as Trout will be in the A.L., but he has perhaps turned into a favorite for N.L. Rookie of the Year. The two other players most consider to have a chance are Todd Frazier (26 years old) of the Reds and Wade Miley (25 years old) of the Diamondbacks. Frazier is the easiest to compare directly as a position player, but his stats just dont stack up.
133 G - .264 BA - .799 OPS 21 HR 94 R 58 RBI 9 3B 17 SB
123 G - .278 BA - .845 OPS 19 HR 55 R 65 RBI 6 3B 3 SB
Harper has more homers, 14 more stolen bases, and nearly 40 more runs scored than Frazier does. Both players are on first place teams, but Harper has made more of an impact on his teams 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 has gone 7-6 with a 3.65 ERA. His numbers still look good for a rookie with a 16-11 record and 3.32 ERA in 187.0 innings, 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. Rosario 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 N.L. 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 couldnt have come at a better time for Washington.