Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 9/7/12

Of all the wondrous talents Bryce Harper possesses, the one area where the Nationals phenom stood out immediately upon his promotion to the majors was his baserunning. At 19, Harper may already be the best baserunner in baseball. He certainly is the most aggressive.

From his first career stolen base when he took home against Cole Hamels, to scoring on a ground ball to the pitcher against the Cubs on Thursday night, Harper has displayed a masterful command of the basepaths. Harper constantly hustles and is never afraid to take the extra base.

Below is a compilation of some of Harper’s best baserunning plays this season prompted by his excellent hustle against the Cubs on Thursday.

Let’s start with Harper’s first career stolen base that came when he stole home as Cole Hamels attempted a pickoff throw to first on May 6:

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Harper started off his career with alert hustle, and he’s continued it through September. On Thursday Sept. 6 against the Cubs, Harper scored from third on a grounder back to pitcher to break a 1-1 tie. Before that play, he had stretched a double into a triple:

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On July 13, an alert Harper took third base as the Marlins infielders and pitcher are hanging out and not paying attention:

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Harper turned an infield chopper that bled through to the outfield into a double against the Orioles on June 24. His hustle on this play was magnificent:

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Harper takes two on a lazy Jason Heyward who drops the ball after Harper singles to right (from May 26):

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Harper tags up and advances on consecutive flyouts to Shane Victorino on May 23:

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We got on Harper for saying he played the game like he wanted to “run your ass over,” but now we know what he meant. He does play the game that way, and he plays it the right way.

“I want to play this game hard,” he told MLB Network in June. “I’m not going to disrespect it. I’m not going to disrespect anybody in that other clubhouse, or anybody on that other team. I’m not going to disrespect anybody in my clubhouse. I really want to get respect from everybody in the game, and I think the best way you can is playing hard. I think if you play hard every single day and let your game speak and not worry about anything around you, I think that’s when you get your respect.”

Harper is right, and that’s what he’s done. He’s played the game arguably harder than anyone else in baseball, and he’s earned respect through his play. He’s also completely changed my perception of him. I no longer look at him as a loudmouth kid who was sacked by the LBS Nut Bag. I’m in awe of his ability and love the way he plays the game. He’s turned me into a fan.

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