Walking Harper: Scared or Smart Baseball?

The Cubs walked Harper six times today, and

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Bryce Harper Walk
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 08: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals is intentionally walked in the12th inning as David Ross #3 of the Chicago Cubs waits the pitch at Wrigley Field on May 8, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 607677301 ORIG FILE ID: 529432322

The Cubs walked National’s slugger Bryce Harper six times today (yes you read that right). Six walks topped off with a HBP to total seven plate appearances without recording an official at-bat. Between the last two games, Harper has totaled 11 consecutive plate appearances without recording an at-bat, a new league record. Not only is he being walked, Harper isn’t even getting anything to swing at. Most teams are following suit. Harper has yet to reach even 100 at-bats, and he is an everyday player!

Seed Sack

So is the smart play to walk Bryce Harper? Many managers would answer yes. According to MLB.com, Harper has been walked 30 times this year, which puts him second on the list behind Paul Goldschmidt (33). Harper has managed to score 21 times this year, so he is still doing some damage. Many, like Tanner Roark, think that what the Cubs, along with many other teams, are doing is “scared baseball.”

The strategy that Maddon and the Cubs adopted is smart baseball. He is challenging other players in the National’s lineup to step-up and knock Harper around the bases, which they failed to do today. Although given a free-pass six times today, Harper only came around to score once. This comes as no surprise when you take a look at the lineup and see him being followed by Zimmerman, who is hitting a measly .236. It seems as though Dusty Baker has some reorganizing to do as far as the lineup is concerned.

It’s also important to note that Harper is only hitting .265 on the season. He is not getting anything to hit, and he is struggling with that so far this season.