Bryce Harper is the best player in baseball. There. I said it.I don’t mean the best hitter or the best player so far this season. I mean that right now, today, Bryce Harper is the best baseball player on the planet period.Yes, better than Mike Trout.Deal with it. Hear me out.MORE: Must-see photos of Bryce Harper |Harper channels Crash Davis after 100th homerAnd not only is he the best player in baseball, he’s the best player for baseball.Deal with that, too. Let me explain.Two weeks into the season, Harper carries a .458 on-base percentage, is slugging a league-leading .897 with six home runs, has an OPS of 1.356 and has a league-leading 15 RBIs.Yes, it’s early. Yes, small sample sizes and all that. But this early April flourish does not signify a case closed, but merely serves as further evidence of the bigger case he’s built since last season, when he compiled 9.9 Wins Above Replacement and was the unanimous NL MVP.The case is this: Bryce Harper is the best baseball has to offer in 2016 and he’s only getting better. It took Harper four seasons to do it, but he has without question ascended to the throne of baseball’s royalty, even wresting the Baseball King crown from the still-crazy-good Trout to become the example by which all other players are measured.Yes, he rubs some people the https://www.dodgersedge.com/los-angeles-dodgers/mike-piazza-jersey wrong way. Yes, he’s cocky. Yes, he’s the opposite of the aww-shucks Trout. None of that matters. On the field, Harper has become a difference-maker whose play makes for must-see TV.That’s not to take anything from Trout, who still remains quite the difference-maker. But consider this: Trout led the AL last season with a .590 slugging percentage, a .991 OPS and a 176 OPS+. All are crazy good.But Harper led his league with numbers that were significantly better than Trout’s: .649 slugging, 1.109 OPS and a 195 OPS+. Harper also scored 118 runs to Trout’s 104 and drew 124 walks to Trout’s 92. And Harper did all this in 28 fewer plate appearances.Harper’s shown no signs of abating so far this season. Meanwhile, Trout is off to a slow start (for him), slashing .233/.333/.372 through 12 games with one home run and four RBIs.Nobody expects Trout to keep those numbers for long, but we also can’t just keep him as our default answer to the best-player question when Harper is consistently showing himself to be better, even if by a statistical hair.It’s more than fair to ask whether it’s crazy to make this call after one outstanding season plus two additional outstanding weeks. It’s not crazy. Here’s why: Trout was elite almost immediately. He lived up to the hype. We know what he is at his best, which is spectacular. Will he get even better? Maybe (probably?), but it’s no guarantee.Harper was a slow build. There were lots of flashes, but there were also lots of bumps. It took a while, but now we know what Harper is too: spectacular, but also likely just getting started. In other words, if 2015 and the first two weeks of this season represent the beginning of Harper’s best, then his best is already better than Trout has been Chris Taylor Jersey in any season so far.Side note about WAR:Trout has compiled 0.5 WAR so far this season, according to Baseball-Reference.com, while Harper’s is 0.6. If ever there was an example of WAR relying too much on defense, it’s this. It seems hard to believe that anyone would argue right now that Trout is having almost as good a season as Harper. Because it’s not even close. Hitting aside, Harper is tied for second in MLB in defensive runs saved with four (Trout has three), has three stolen bases to Trout’s one and has scored twice as many runs. What’s WAR good for? Something, just not everything.X-factorsStats aside, though, Harper is about the best thing baseball could ask for right now. It helps when your best player also has entertainment value beyond https://www.dodgersedge.com/los-angeles-dodgers/chris-taylor-jersey hits and runs. And like him or not, Harper’s never dull.As MLB seeks to lure younger fans, he’sdone his part to bring more energy and flair and, as he says, make baseball fun again. The crazy walk-up song, the weird hair, the “100” emoji bat knob, the bashing of those silly unwritten rules it’s all part of his game. And it’s all part of why we watch.MORE: Ranking baseball’s dumbest unwritten rulesBaseball needs a rock star, a player who blends elite talent with on-field flair. That’s Bryce Harper.Trout, on the other hand, is the go-about-your-busine s guy who lets his bat and glove do all the talking. You might even say his greatne s is boring. And that’s fine. It’s still greatne s. But when chosing the best, beyond just numbers on a screen,entertainment value can be a heck of an X-factor.At the very least, it’s finally accurate to say Harper is the Trout of the National League. But maybe it’s time to call Trout the Harper of the American League.None of this means I won’t write a different column in October about how Troutreclaimed the Best Player in Baseball crown. But for now, Harper has the edge and is perhaps poised for a long reign on thatthrone.Deal with it. Thank you for reading.
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