Bryce Harper and Miguel Cabrera, at 22

Bryce Harper continued terrorizing Major League pitching yesterday, coming a double short of the cycle against the Padres. For the season, he’s now hitting .338/.476/.729, good for a 215 wRC+, and it seems pretty clear that we’re seeing the breakout season of a truly elite hitter. As Jeff Sullivan noted a couple of weeks ago, Harper has made some significant changes this year, and now that he’s pulling the ball and getting it into the air with regularity, he has turned his raw power into high-level production.

He won’t keep this up all year, of course, and will eventually return to human levels of production. But it’s worth noting that even when he does, Harper will have essentially replicated the first couple of years of Miguel Cabrera’s career. Here are their career numbers through age-22.

Bryce Harper 1659 12% 22% 0.212 0.324 0.278 0.364 0.490 0.369 134
Miguel Cabrera 1716 9% 21% 0.223 0.343 0.300 0.366 0.523 0.377 131

Miggy’s age 20-22 seasons came from 2003 to 2005, so while his unadjusted numbers are slightly better, Harper actually has been more productive at the plate when you add in today’s pitcher-friendly run environment. And, of course, Harper’s line is still predominantly made up of his data from ages 19, 20, and 21, with only six weeks of his age-22 performance mixed in.

If we add in the Depth Charts rest-of-season forecast for Harper — which calls for him to hit .287/.382/.524 for the rest of 2015 — in order to create an expected line through his complete age-22 season, Harper’s career numbers would be .280/.368/.497, with a .373 wOBA and a 136 wRC+. The full list of hitters in baseball history that stepped to the plate 2,000 times by the end of their age-22 season and put up a 136 wRC+ or better? Mike Trout (165), Ty Cobb (159), Mickey Mantle (149), and Mel Ott (147). Ken Griffey Jr was at 134. Alex Rodriguez was at 130. As noted, Cabrera was at 131, and in fewer plate appearances, which skewed his numbers more towards his more developed years.

Bryce Harper is pretty, pretty good.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

@BryanHarperFacts coming soon….

8 years ago
Reply to  tz

You spelled Banknotes wrong…