With the Phillies up 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper unloaded off pitcher Aaron Harang.
His home run yesterday traveled 452 feet, the longest home run of his career and the fifth longest in the history of Nationals Park, which was opened in 2008.
Harper went 2-for-3 on the day with a run, hitting a single alongside his home run, while also walking.
Just 12 games into the season, Harper could not have started his 2015 campaign any better. He's slashing .279/.404/.581, while his .985 OPS is currently 71 percent better than league average.
Is this Harper's year to finally live up to superstar expectations that were handed upon him when drafted 1st overall in 2010?
You could argue both ways. For one, Harper's strikeout rate is at a whopping 32.7 percent, easily the highest mark of his career to date, and well above his average strikeout rate of 21.7 percent.
Secondly, Harper's batting average on balls in play (BABIP), usually used to determine how lucky (or unlucky) a player has been, is extremely high at .364, well above what is considered average for a big leaguer (.300) and his career average (.320).
On the contrary, Harper's high strikeout rate is likely to fall. He's making more contact this year on pitches inside the zone than ever before, making contact with 89.7 percent of pitches inside the zone. However, to bring his game to the next level, he needs to do a better job of making contact with pitches inside the zone, as his 89.7 percent, while a career high, ranks 87th in baseball.
Plus, he's not swinging outside the zone any more than he has done in the past, swinging at only 35.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, which is the 61st highest mark in baseball. He still makes contact with 50 percent of pitches outside the zone, ranking 166th in baseball.
While Harper's plate discipline is good as compared to numbers he has put up in the past, it still needs improvement in order for him to cut down on the strikeouts and put the bat on the ball more. Considering an improvement in his plate discipline is being shown early, the strikeout rate will definitely fall.
In terms of the BABIP, that has no explanation. Harper is in a hot streak, for sure, but if he can continue to put balls in play, he will continue to keep his statistics and performance strong. It's likely he won't end the season with a .360 BABIP, but if he is able to keep it around .320, his numbers will definitely be a lot better than they have been in the past.
Obviously, there is more than just stats.
Unquantifiable factors also come into play with Harper, including the fact that he continues to adjust to Major League pitching and the game overall. In 2013, Harper's best season, he started off hot as well, slashing .348/.400/.696 with five homers in his first 12 games. His BABIP was .355. Harper was scorching hot.
He cooled off drastically, hitting just .193/.319/.368 in May, letting his average drop to .287 overall. Harper finished the season hitting just .274/.368/.486, a huge falloff from his first numbers.
How do we know that won't happen again?
We don't. But we do know that Harper continues to develop, and as he becomes more experienced, he will have less up-and-down stretches, as he becomes a more consistent hitter. That's being shown here in the first two weeks of the season.
It's been 12 games, but it is exciting to see what the future holds for the 2015 Bryce Harper. Something seems a little different about him and that is something to like.