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Bryce Harper on haters in opposing ballparks: ‘I enjoy getting booed’

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Bryce Harper is one of the most polarizing players in Major League Baseball. Despite putting up phenomenal numbers throughout his baseball career at every level, the Washington Nationals slugger nevertheless has plenty of detractors who attempt to deride his on-field accomplishments. And fans in opposing ballparks relish the opportunity to boo the sometimes-brash but consistently excellent ballplayer every time he pays a visit to their town.

And Harper, 23, doesn’t mind it one bit. In fact, he loves it.

Fresh off becoming the youngest unanimous MVP winner in baseball history after being named so on the National League side Thursday, a “very excited, very humbled” Harper argued the negative responses he receives from haters motivate him to perform at a high level.

“I love it. I really do,” he said, as transcribed by Big League Stew. “I enjoy getting booed when I go to places. It makes me thrive. It makes me do well. And that’s something I enjoy. Jayson [Werth] always messes with me and says, ‘if you don’t like it, then stop doing all your stupid commercials.'”

Harper has been on the radar of baseball fans since he was a 16-year-old phenom being touted as the “Next Big Thing” and landing on national magazine covers. His brash style, cocky demeanor and his tendency to spout off at times has made him an easy target for criticism — even from his own peers, who voted him the most overrated player in baseball for two seasons running — despite his production on the field.

On the other hand, Harper is adored by many and his friendly demeanor with fans goes a long way in making him one of the most recognizable faces in baseball.

Hitting .330 with 42 home runs and 99 RBI while leading the majors with a .649 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base average should go a long way in silencing his many haters and those who continue to doubt him.

And if fans continue to boo him? Like many other athletes who thrive on doubt and derision, so be it.