Alex Rodriguez on Bryce Harper: ‘I love everything about him’
With the New York Yankees in D.C. for a two-game set with the Washington Nationals, it was apropos for Alex Rodriguez to be asked about the home team’s red-hot outfielder, Bryce Harper. Perhaps not surprisingly given the parallels between the two superstars at the early stages of their respective careers, A-Rod thinks very highly of Harper.
“I love everything about him,” Rodriguez said, via the New York Daily News. “I like players that play hard. He wears his emotion on his sleeve, he’s a gamer and he’s a winner. As a fan of baseball, I would pay big money to watch him play — especially to watch him hit.”
Both Rodriguez (1993) and Harper (2010) were both selected as the first-overall in their respective drafts, both at the age of 17. And while A-Rod enjoyed an incredible second season in the big leagues (.358/.414/.631 with 36 home runs, 123 RBI and 141 runs, as noted by D.C. Sports Bog), Harper regressed, experiencing an injury-marred sophomore slump in his second season after earning Rookie of the Year honors at the age of 19 in 2012. Harper was again limited by injuries in his third season, playing in only 100 games.
Rodriguez did observe, though, that Harper arguably has had it much tougher than he did during the early stages of his career.
“The pressure that he’s under doesn’t even compare,” he said. “His is so much harder, so much more challenging than when I came up. We didn’t have any of the social media stuff. I give Bryce a lot of credit for how he’s handling everything.”
Another similarity between the two ballplayers is how their MLB colleagues recently viewed them as overrated. Harper was named as baseball’s most overrated player for the second consecutive season earlier this spring, with Rodriguez finishing third in last year’s voting.
Perhaps why A-Rod admires Harper so much is how the 22-year-old, much like him, seems to be a lightning rod for criticism, plays with the burden of intense scrutiny and appears to have as many haters as fans.
Actually, the ratio between detractors and fans appears to be heading in a positive direction for both players this season, with Harper putting up MVP-caliber numbers and A-Rod seemingly doing everything right after his one-year exile out of baseball.