Keeping tabs on Bryce Harper‘s All-Star bid this season has been just like watching him play. Even when he struggles, the guy known to teammates as “Bam-Bam” keeps trying, keeps pushing and remains aggressive, diving after balls, stealing bases and sliding in head first. In the end, his tenacity and aggressiveness paid off, and he was named Saturday as as an injury replacement for Giancarlo Stanton, making him the youngest player ever to represent Washington in the Midsummer Classic.
Promoted to the big leagues too late to be on the original ballot, fans were left to debate whether a 19-year-old with such limited experience deserved to mingle with the game’s elites in Kansas City. Then, after he was skipped over when the first reserves were selected, he was one of the candidates in the Final Vote, but was pitted against several popular players, including Atlanta’s Chipper Jones and Michael Bourne and the Cardinals’ David Freese. In the end, Freese’s popularity in St. Louis won out in the voting.
But when starters and others initially named to the roster started going down with injuries, Bourne and Jones were named to the team, along with Harper, who is one of a record five rookies to appear in the game. He joins Arizina pitcher Wade Miley, Oakland’s Ryan Cook, Anaheim’s Mike Trout and Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who won the AL Final Vote..
And so Nationals fans get their wish. No matter whether it’s because of his play or his marketing potential. Bryce Harper is an All-Star. He is the youngest position player ever named to the Midsummer Classic, and the third youngest player overall, behind Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller, joining an elite group of 19 players who became All-Stars before their 21st birthday.
As noted here before, rookie All-Stars, particularly position players, have seldom made much of an impact on the game itself. But with five first-year players on the team this time around, including Trout in the AL starting lineup and Harper on the NL bench. The trend could change this year. With his offensive and defensive skills, it’s likely Harper will see some action, and with his aggressive style of play, it’s a good bet that he will make something happen on Tuesday night.