Will Bryce Harper ever achieve superstar status?

Since the start of the 2012 season, one of the most talked-about players in all of baseball has been Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. The 21 year old was called up that year at the tender age of 19, and was extremely impressive. His 20 home runs, 58 RBIs and 18 stolen bases warranted him a trip to his first All-Star Game, as well as the Rookie of the Year Award. Since then , Harper’s young career has been something of a roller coaster ride. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but will he ever be the once in a generation talent many experts believed him to be?

Harper’s journey through the Major Leagues

After winning the ROY in 2012, Harper looked to be getting even better in 2013. Through April of that season, he hit .344 with 9 home runs and 18 RBIs. For that first month, he seemed ready to become an MVP-type player, following in the footsteps of fellow outfield phenom and 2012 AL ROY Mike Trout. However, that’s when things started going downhill.

In May of 2013, Harper hurt his knee crashing into the wall in Dodger Stadium. A month-long trip to the disabled list did not turn out to be enough, as he would not be the same player after returning. For the year he actually put up nearly identical statistics to his rookie year, with 20 home runs, 58 RBIs, and a .274  batting average. These were good numbers, but slightly misleading, considering Harper was at his best in April. After his injury, though, he struggled mightily at the plate, partly because of the residual effects of his knee injury.

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Cellar dwellers with bright futures: Cubs

As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The second of these teams is the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs fans went into 2014 with little to no hopes of competing in the National League Central. As of the All-Star break, the Cubs are indeed a last place team, but one that can look toward the future. Several players they hope to build around are already shining in the major leagues, while others continue to develop in the minors. Earlier this month, Chicago bolstered an already strong farm system by trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for several prospects. (You can read more about how that trade benefits the Cubs here.)

Building blocks

Although the current roster is languishing in last place, several players have emerged as potential stars. Since being acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres, the Cubs have been waiting for 24 year old first baseman Anthony Rizzo to break out, and this year he has. After hitting just .233 last year, Rizzo has raised his average to .275, and his OBP to .381. His 20 home runs rank third in the league, and he is being recognized with a a selection to the National League All-Star team. Seeing his potential, the Cubs signed him to a long term deal that keeps him under team control at a reasonable price ($41 million minimum) until 2021.

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