As you know by now, Bryce Harper is a Final Vote candidate for the 2012 National League All-Star Team. Make sure you vote #BryceIn12 before Thursday’s 4:00 p.m. EDT deadline. You can vote as many times as you’d like, so to get you fired up to get those clicking fingers moving, we’ve compiled 12 reasons why our 19 year-old phenom belongs in the Mid-Summer Classic:
1. He’s got pop. Everyone has heard the legend of the 502-foot home run at Tropicana Field when he was still in high school. Indeed, Harper’s homers are never cheapies. That includes his first Major League blast, to straightaway center at Nats Park on May 14.
2. He always hustles. In the third inning on June 24 in Baltimore, Harper grounded into the first double play of his Major League career. How did he respond? By hitting a chopper up the middle… and turning it into a double.
3. He doesn’t take his at-bats into the field. Despite having one of the worst days of his career at the plate on June 16 against the Yankees, Harper came up with this huge catch in the 13th inning.
4. He’s got a flair for the dramatic. In a game against the New York Mets on June 5 that featured just about everything – including three game-tying RBI from newly minted All-Star Ian Desmond from the eighth inning on – Harper finally ended it, becoming the first teenager to hit a walk-off since Gary Sheffield in 1988.
5. He woke up early in the morning after an extra-inning walk-off to read to children. Where was Harper the morning after that historic event? At Bonnie Brae Elementary School in Burke, VA, reading to third graders.
6. He’s a fast learner. Crafty vet and former Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez struck Harper out on a slow, slurving eephus pitch the first time the two met in Atlanta on May 27. Livo tried the same trick again in the next at-bat, but this time, Harper was ready.
7. One great young player deserves another. Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels 20 year-old outfield phenom, has already been selected to the game. Trout and Harper have become nearly synonymous in the weeks leading up to the game. For one to be there without the other just feels… Wrong.
8. He’s clutch. After rallying from a 7-0 deficit, the Nationals trailed 10-9 entering the ninth inning in Colorado last week. They didn’t trail for long.
9. He’s charitable. When a Colorado brewery tried to capitalize on his “clown question, bro” phrase by naming a new offering after it in time for the Nationals recent visit to Colorado, Harper asked that they donate proceeds from sales to the family of Celena Hollis, a Denver police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
10. He’s not content getting just one out. Always looking for a chance to stretch his talents, Harper gunned down the speedy Juan Pierre on May 23 in Philadelphia, turning a failed hit and run into a double play.
11. He’s got swag. After getting intentionally plunked by Cole Hamels, Harper went first to third on a single to left field, then took off for home on Hamels pick-off throw to first base, swiping home for his first Major League steal.
12. He’s a genuine superstar. At age 19, he’s already a national attraction. He plays the game right, and has become one of the most popular players in the sport. Isn’t that what the All-Star Game is all about?