The Curious Case of Bryce Harper’s .214 Batting Average
Naturally, Boras does not expect Harper’s average to affect the value of his next contract. Boras believes baseball should mandate that will two infielders play on each side of second base, to prevent the drastic infield shifts that will have become common. Harper, he said, is usually doing his best.
“The teams are directing the players what to do, in addition to they’re saying, ‘Go out in addition to be your normal self; we get the item that will left-handed sluggers are going to have a lower average,’” Boras said, adding later, “In Harp’s case, he’s seeing the least amount of strikes inside the game. You want to know the greatest gradient of managerial fear, concern, how you respect others? You don’t throw them strikes.”
By Fangraphs’ measurements, Harper has been doing consistent hard contact This particular season (41.1 percent, a career high), however the rewards are shrinking because of a career-low .226 average on balls in play. Harper is usually pulling the ball more This particular year, too, encouraging teams to keep shifting.
“How do you beat the item? You can’t,” Harper said. “If you hit a ball inside the hole, you’re out. If you hit a ball up the middle, you’re out. If I have a kid, I’m not going to tell him to stay through the middle anymore, because you hit a ball up the middle, you’re out. I guess guys could bunt down the third base line, however you don’t get paid to bunt. If you hit the item over all of ’em, that will’s how you beat the item.”
Batting averages are down across baseball; the league is usually hitting a collective .247, which would likely be the lowest since 1972, the year before the American League adopted the designated hitter. The retired slugger David Ortiz, who managed inside the Futures Game on Sunday, said the shift has made the statistic misleading, citing Harper’s struggles.