Alright, stop for a minute. Think back to when you were a kid, a time when you (hopefully) used your imagination. Imagine with me that the Minnesota Twins somehow just signed Bryce Harper. Now obviously it would be a pipe dream but lets have some fun. Don’t think about the money or the fact he would likely never go to Minnesota.
The obvious place for Bryce Harper in Minnesota would be to keep playing in right field. But Carson, the Twins have Max Kepler. Yes they do but you tell me, who would rather have? Since becoming a full-time player in the Majors, Harper’s worst season was in 2016. But even Bryce Harper’s worst season, offensively, was better than Max Kepler’s best season. In 2016, Harper hit .243, 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, slugged .649, with an on-base percentage of .373. In Kepler’s best season as a pro (2017), he hit .243, 19 home runs, 69 RBIs, slugged .425, with an on-base percentage of .312. Harper has exceeded those numbers in all his seasons as a full-time starter, even in a season (2017) where he only played 111 games.
That’s great Carson, but what about defense? Alright, here’s where Kepler wins the battle. His fielding percentage for his career is .989 in right field. Harper’s fielding percentage is at .983 but he has also had almost double the amount of chances. Harper also beats Kepler in the assist department. He has 31 assists to Kepler’s 23 but that also is with more chances. So in terms of defense, you are giving up something but that’s where the best defensive center fielder in baseball enters. If Bryce Harper plays right field for the Twins, his range wouldn’t have to be as great as normal right fielder because he has Byron Buxton. Byron Buxton when healthy can take away from that gap left by Kepler. And the offensive numbers should all but make up for the defensive inefficiencies.
Just picture this line-up for a moment:
1 – Jorge Polanco – SS
2 – Eddie Rosario – LF
3 – Nelson Cruz – DH
4 – Bryce Harper – RF
5 – Miguel Sano – 3B
6 – Jonathan Schoop – 2B
7 – C.J. Cron – 1B
8 – Jason Castro/Mitch Garver – C
9 – Byron Buxton – CF
Are you kidding me? That’s a top five American League line-up if everyone plays to their potential and even if they’re half as good as their potential, that’s still pretty good. Plus, you could trade Kepler for a bullpen piece or another starter in the rotation. The only down side for Harper is the number 34 is retired (Kirby Puckett), but that is probably the least of his concerns. Thanks for dreaming with me.
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