Recently, Yahoo's Jeff Passan wrote a piece on MLB wunderkinds Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, and he had this to say about Harper's game:
You love Bryce Harper with your heart. Your heart sees through prescription glasses. Blemishes don't exist. Harper's arrogance is endearing, his long swing fixable, his over-aggression something out of which he'll grow. He hustles like Larry Flynt, hits balls a mile, parlays his different sort of athleticism—a longer, lither kind—into playing outfield like a natural despite having spent all of a season and a half there. He'll hit for average. He'll play Gold Glove defense. The heart wants.
Passan's description of Harper gets at what makes him so appealing to baseball fans. There's something about Harper, a certain flair, that makes him more fun to watch than Trout, who has the superior numbers.
But I got hung up on "his long swing fixable." Yeah, you could fix it. But why would you want to? It's Harper's swing—even before the ball gets involved—that makes me sit up and take notice.
We generally laud great hitters for where they send the ball when they swing, not how they look while doing it. Sure, we remember the odd batting stance with personality—think Tony Batista's wide-open plant, or Joe Morgan's flapping arm—but, even then, most of that melts away once the swing begins. It has to, really, because hitting a baseball is an incredibly hard thing to do, and it requires a great deal of precision and efficiency of movement. So we're left with a lot of swings that look exactly the same
There are some hitters who can turn this dynamic on its head, though, and Bryce Harper is one of them. Like Prince Fielder with his walloping uppercut, and Ken Griffey Jr. with his smooth-rigid-smooth routine book-ending that unmistakable hitch of a step towards first base, just swinging a bat is enough for Harper to capture the attention of baseball fans.
Just take a moment to watch the swing that Harper puts on the ball when he hits a home run here:
There is a lot going on in Harper's swing. It doesn't possess a typical thumper's compactness. It's instead full of spark and torsion. That's why it stands out. That's why we love it. Call it long if you want, but don't say that it needs any kind of fixing.