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Is improved vision making Bryce Harper even better?

May 13, 2011, 1:54 AM EDT


We’ve already discussed how Bryce Harper is making a mockery of the Sally League.

The Washington Nationals phenom has a 15-game hitting streak at the moment and is tearing the cover off the ball with a .396/.472/.712 line. It’s impressive for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old playing full-season A-ball for the first time.

But Mark Zuckerman at CSNWashington has a theory on why Harper took off after a mediocre start to his professional career: He’s been prescribed contact lenses to sharpen his vision, and is doing eye exercises to “strengthen his eye muscles and allow him to process what he sees much quicker than before.”

Since meeting with Smithson for the first time late last month, Harper has gone on a tear at low-Class A Hagerstown. After a 4-for-5 performance Wednesday night that included his first career grand slam, he’s now riding a 15-game hitting streak, having posted a .492 average, five homers and 16 RBIs during that stretch.

In the span of three weeks, Harper has turned a pedestrian start to his pro career into a full-fledged phenomenon.

I wouldn’t give too much credit to this for Harper’s gaudy numbers, and Zuckerman even writes that “no one ever doubted last summer’s No. 1 draft pick would dominate this low level of the minors. His skills and motivation were off the charts, and he’d never not dominated any league in which he played.”

On the other hand, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. Edgar Martinez, a career .312 hitter, did eye exercises every day to combat a disorder that affected his ability to focus.

Whatever the reason for Harper’s success, he doesn’t seem destined to remain in A-ball much longer, no matter how much the Nationals want to take it slow.

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  1. Jonny 5 - May 13, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Challenge him. Move him up until he’s challenged. If he can help a team as soon as next season that needs some help, why not? It may not be the most economical plan in the world, but they’ve already shown that may not be their biggest priority.

  2. joecool16280 - May 13, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    He’s going to crack the Nats roster at some point this season…he’s special.

  3. sknut - May 13, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    They really should move him up, confidence isn’t a issue so if/when he struggles against tougher competition its only going to drive him more. I doubt he will be in Washington this year but the start of next year seems like a real possibility.

  4. bleedgreen - May 13, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Just hope he’s not like a Billy Beane type of guy that dominates everywhere and doesn’t know how to deal with it when he ISN’T the best guy on the field and just implodes, gives up, or acts out in the clubhouse. He did get a kinda butt hurt after being demoted before the regular season.

  5. trevorb06 - May 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    I understand wanting to keep him down though. If he could cut back on the K’s there’s no reason he couldn’t be hitting .400+/.500+/.800+ down there. Get those walks up!

  6. natstowngreg - May 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Dave Sheinin has an article about the contacts in today’s Washington Post.

    He points out that it isn’t just about hitting. Harper’s fielding and baserunning need work. You can’t just look at the slash line and say, he’s ready for the big time.

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