An intangible by its nature cannot be defined, but the results of those intangibles are at times discernible. Take for example Bryce Harper and his ability to hustle and score runs. There have been a number of times when Bryce Harper has made a run happen. When he has forced the issue and scored from first while Zimmerman is caught in a rundown, stolen home, or scampered home on a simple come backer to the second baseman. And that doesn’t even mention the number of times Harper has turned a routine single into a double.
Harper will take advantage of fielders. Consider how base running works. The pressure is always on the defense to make the play. There was a play last night where Harper turned a double into a triple. It was a hard hit ball that banged off the wall and Harper just kept running. He forced the defense to make a perfect throw to get him and they weren’t able to. In that case there were four separate actions that needed to be completed by two fielders in order to get Harper out. The outfielder had to cleanly retrieve the ball and then make a good throw. The third baseman then needed to receive the throw and get the tag on Harper before he reached the base. On any one of these actions a mistake can occur while all Harper has to do is keep running.
When Bryce Harper is running the pressure is always on the defense. It is an intangible, but its results can be seen. Despite not playing until April 28 Harper has the fifth most doubles on the Nationals, has scored the second most runs, and has taken the extra base 58% of the time. Bryce Harper has been on first 23 times when a single has been hit and has reached at least third 12 times. Harper has been on first 10 times when a double has hit and has scored 7 times.
It isn’t easy to quantify Bryce Harper’s hustle, but it can be seen in the numbers. He is an amazing talent and in watching him it will be quickly understood that his field vision is off the charts. Harper’s head is always in the game, and at times he is two or three steps ahead of the other players on the field. Harper may not even realize that while he is standing on first he is calculating all the possible plays and exactly how he can take advantages of the defenders, but his mind is different than the average ballplayer’s.
Now that defenses know how Harper is and how he is always looking to take advantages of him some lesser fielders might let this get to them. They might become conscience of Harper and not want to be the next to be embarrassed or put on a highlight reel. Even if no professional fielder should panic against Harper some may or Harper might make it look like they are. The one certain thing about Harper is that he is never going to take a play off and will force every issue and take every advantage that he can. Some will say that these are the things that don’t show up in the stats sheets, but look a little deeper and they are all right there in front of your eyes. Harper’s head will always be in the game and if ever a player on the opposition loses focus, even for a second, Harper will make them look foolish.