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Wednesday August 11, 2010 5:55 pm

Converting Bryce Harper makes sense for Washington Nationals




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB, Rumors,

Bryce HarperShould the Nationals even consider keeping first-overall pick Bryce Harper in the catcher’s position? At the 2010 MLB Entry Draft, Washington selected Harper as an outfielder, but indicated that they may use him in his primary college position behind the plate. However, that decision may slow down Harper’s ascension to the majors and even shorten the length of his career due to the high physical demands that the catcher position puts on the human body.

Harper was selected not for his defensive skills, but primarily for his bat. His towering home runs are legendary among the college levels, but he can do a lot more with his offense than put balls in parking lots. His is a swing that the Nationals will want terrorizing opponents for years, but that threat may be reduced by as many as 100 at-bats per season if Harper is left to strap on the protective gear every inning.

Even the reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer only plays in about 130 games on average, and he too was a first-overall selection by the Twins in 2001. Talk around the Minnesota catcher has focused less on if, more on when the Twins will convert Mauer to another position, as they’ll want to keep his bat in the lineup without risking his knees. Harper could be Mauer in eight years, or he could be even better if he moves out from behind the plate.

It seems to only make sense to move Harper. The same thing happened with Joey Votto, Carlos Delgado and Jimmie Foxx. In order to maximize his value, Harper needs to play more than 150 games per season, and he’ll never do that as a catcher. Putting Harper at first base or the outfield will also put his bat in the lineup on an every day basis which, for the money that Harper will make one day, is a must.

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