Bryce Harper is the talk of Major League Baseball. He is the next can’t miss prospect, a 17 year old kid on a direct path to stardom. He graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last year, and today he became the first pick in baseball’s amateur draft.
The hype is extraordinary: to some, "He might be the greatest amateur player of all time," and to others, "He's the best position player I've seen come through here," or “the LeBron James of baseball.” He has been called “a prodigy” and “the chosen one.” According to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci:
So good and so young is Bryce Harper, however, that he explodes baseball convention. He has hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and he did so in January, at age 16, with a blast that would have flown farther than the measured 502 feet had it not smashed off the back wall of the dome. Still only 16, Harper stands 6'3", weighs 205 pounds, has faster bat speed than Mark McGwire in his prime and runs so fast that he scored on wild pitches six times this season from second base. As a catcher he picks off runners from his knees, and when he pitches, he throws a fastball that has been clocked at 96 mph. He also does volunteer work, holds down a 3.5 grade point average and attends religious education classes nearly every morning before school.
I can’t help but wonder: does he leap tall buildings in a single bound?
In thinking about Bryce Harper, I also can’t help but think of college admission debates, or firefighter promotion tests, or law school hiring. These things are never sure things – this is true whether we are talking about promotions, admissions, or hiring – and to be behave as if they are is simply foolish.