Bryce Harper, the sky-is-the-limit second-year Washington Nationals outfielder, homered in his first two at-bats on Opening Day in the team’s tilt against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. By doing so, Harper became only the third defending Rookie of the Year Award winners, joining Raul Mondesi and Carlton Fisk, to hit two home runs in the first game of the following season, an interesting info-nugget that once again proves my theory: Baseball stat geeks are relentless when it comes to tirelessly mining data in order to provide a historical context for a remarkable on-field feat.
But perhaps Harper’s vulgar display of power — fueled by Chipotle burritos, no doubt — warrants its inclusion in the aforementioned statistical oddity. Going yard twice to start off a season? It doesn’t matter if a player is the reigning Rookie of the Year or some poor schlub just trying to remain on a team’s active MLB roster, two homers in a player’s first two at-bats of the season is two homers in a player’s first two at-bats of a season.
Harper’s at-bat heroics:
Harper’s two solo shots were more than enough offense for the Nationals’ other young phenom, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who gave up a leadoff single to Juan Pierre in the first inning but then retired the next 19 hitters he faced before surrendering a double to Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh inning.
Despite Strasburg’s 80-pitch, 7-inning demonstration of mound mastery, Harper nevertheless was the big star of the day with his two laser shots into the stands providing the only runs scored in Washington’s 2-0 triumph. “It was a great moment, great experience,” Harper said afterward. “The second one, I really didn’t take full advantage, I guess you would say. It was over and done.”
Indeed. And a welcoming sign of things to come for the Nationals ball club.
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