A rejuvenating offseason has Bryce Harper pledging there’ll be a new Bryce Harper.
Nationals fans can only pray especially after his abysmal follow up to winning the National League MVP in 2015. Harper, 24, had a .243 batting average last season, nearly 90 points down from the year before. And he dropped from his career high of 42 home runs to 24.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Harper said the fruits of winning the MVP followed with a harsh reality. From appearances on Jimmy Kimmel to traveling around to different sporting events, he realized growing his growing celebrity probably wasn’t the best thing for his game.
“There’s certain things, it’s like, ‘Man, that’d be cool. I can’t pass that up. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.,’” Harper said about his 2015 offseason. “But this offseason, I really sat down and was like, ‘You know, that’s probably not a good idea.’”
That’s after Harper had in-game meditations where he contemplated alternative outcomes for his poor performances.
“I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ ” Harper said, remembering a ball he hit in Milwaukee. “I’m walking back, and I’m like, ‘Maybe if I had about 10 more pounds on me, or had worked out another day in the offseason, that might have been a homer.’ And it might not have been. But the thought was there for me.”
Harper apparently learned his lesson and is ready to turn those long outs into home runs. His body feels much better than a year ago, more telling, he seems to have finally grown up.
“It’s not like I’m going to come into the clubhouse like, ‘Oh, I’m a grown-up now,’ ” he said.
But there are changes.
This past offseason, the 24-year-old skipped the Super Bowl, the Grammys and decided to just relax. He focused more on his body and workout routine than his celebrity. He also tied the knot to his longtime girlfriend, Kayla Varner.
Fittingly, his revelation comes just two years before he hits free agency. But Harper claims he’s really not thinking about that right now.
“I don’t look ahead,” Harper said. “I can’t. It’s not fair to myself. I’ve really got to sit down and look at right now. That’s two years down the road. I have two whole seasons to worry about. I have to take care of those two seasons. That’s what’s important.”
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