By Griffin Stoland

Monday night, Bryce Harper obliterated baseballs and the competition as he pulled out a come-from-behind home run derby win. As the hometown favorite, Harper received the loudest cheers – and for good reason. In his three rounds, Harper hit 55 home runs, some surpassing the 470-foot mark.

It was not all smooth sailing for the 25-year-old Washington Nationals right fielder, as, in the final round, he ran into Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber went first, hitting his fair share of moonshots, and posting an admirable tally of 19 homers.

Then, it was Bryce Harper’s turn.

In front of a raucous crowd of 42,000, Harper found himself in need of seven home runs with less than a minute to go. Bryce Harper then went on a tear, hitting six home runs on his next six swings. And when the clock hit zero, Harper had tied Schwarber with 19 home runs. Two swings into his bonus time, which he earned by hitting multiple home runs more than 440 feet, Harper completed the comeback, sending a ball, and his bat, into orbit. Harper won the derby, and he knew it, throwing his bat with both hands halfway down the first baseline in celebration.

Monday night’s home run derby win could be considered Harper’s most notable achievement, behind being named NL Most Valuable Player in 2015. Bryce Harper has been in the majors since he was 18, and in his seven pro years, he has largely been a disappointment. For seven years, Harper has been the face of a failing franchise. Year after year, Harper’s Nationals fail to live up to expectations. Year after year, Harper’s Nationals are bounced out of the postseason without winning a single series. Year after year, Harper’s brash demeanor, and childish antics capture headlines and the attention of GMs across baseball.

At the end of this season, Harper will enter his much-anticipated free agency. If he wants to earn a widely-rumored nine-digit contract, Harper needs to become the leader that his team needs. In the next two months of Nationals baseball, we will see if Harper can rise to the occasion, or continue his residency in postseason purgatory.

 

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