As most MLB players are caught up in spring training, some are representing their countries in the World Baseball Classic. There’s already been lots of excitement around this year’s WBC as the competition continues to grow, but Nationals star Bryce Harper is done missing out on the opportunity to represent his country. He said he won’t stay out of the next competition four years from now. In fact, he can’t wait for the opportunity, according to Ken Rosenthal from FoxSports.com.
Harper isn’t skipping this year’s WBC because he’s concerned about getting hurt as people often assume, Rosenthal wrote. He wants to spend his first full spring as a major leaguer with his team to make himself better and get to know his new outfield partner, Denard Span. Seeing his teammates, Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez, represent the United States in the tournament couldn’t have made Harper’s abstention any easier to take.
In four years, when Harper promises he’ll play for Team USA, just think about where he’ll be in his career. He’ll likely be one of the best players in baseball if he continues on his current trajectory, perhaps with an MVP award under his belt. To have a player of that caliber excited about playing in the WBC would be huge for the future success of the tournament in the United States.
Inevitably, people are concerned about players getting injured in what some consider an exhibition prior to the MLB season. I only refer you to Jayson Stark’s great article on injuries sustained in previous WBCs. Stark himself admits it’s not a perfect study, but whether a player gets injured during the WBC or during spring training, what does it really matter?
Team USA has some great talent this year with David Wright, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, and Giancarlo Stanton, but none of those players are stars that far outreach their team or market. Wright is a great, but sometimes underrated player on the national stage. Braun has been bogged down in scandal for more than a season now. Mauer is extremely great, but hasn’t reached his peak since his MVP season. Stanton plays in Miami, so he’ll never get the type of appreciation he deserves. Bryce Harper is a national media sensation who could truly generate interest for the Classic in four years. Nationals fans, WBC fans, and baseball fans in general should be excited about the opportunity to see him play on the world stage.