Bryce Harper is an absolute stud. There’s no other way about it. He’s raked since the day he stepped foot into the league, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down anytime soon. But there’s one factor he has that makes him incredibly important to the Nationals: he’s clutch.
On Friday night, Bryce recorded his eighth career walk off hit, the first of which was in 2012 against the Mets. Harper appears to be making a habit of ending Nationals games with a bang, and one day he may even approach Ryan Zimmerman numbers (he’s about halfway there).
But for now, let’s take a look back at all of Bryce’s walk offs and give them a ranking from one to eight, based on situation, time of year, and awesomeness.
8. 6/5/2012 vs the Mets
Other than being the first walk off hit in his career, it wasn’t spectacular. With two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, the bases juiced, and an 0-2 count, Bryce poked a single into left field to drive home the man on third and beat the rival Mets. Nothing fancy, but it did end a satisfying win and help contribute to the Nationals’ first playoff-bound season.
7. 7/25/2013 vs the Pirates
With two outs and a man on in the bottom of the 9th, Bryce sent a ball into the Red Porch for his first career walk-off home run. In the summer of an underwhelming 2013 season, Harper ended a three and a half week homer-drought and sent Nationals fans home happy.
6. 9/26/2015 vs the Phillies
During the Bucket of Filth era in Nats history, Harper rung a double into the right field corner to send home Anthony Rendon in the bottom of the 12th of a tight game. At this point in the year, the Nationals were already out of it (they were actually eliminated from playoff contention that day), but it did help solidify Harper’s MVP honors.
5. 6/23/2017 vs the Reds
After battling back to overcome an early 4-run deficit, Harper completed the Nationals’ comeback against the Reds. After Trea Turner got on base to start a two-out rally, it was Harper to the plate. With a full count, two outs, and two on in the bottom of the 12th inning, Bryce ripped a line drive over the right fielder’s head to send Turner home, all while exorcising the demons of a disappointing previous home stand and shaking off a bitter series in Miami.
4. 8/7/2014 vs the Mets
Harper’s first walk-off homer to come in extra innings, and it was an exciting one. After the Mets tied it late and the defense kept it tight until the 13th, Bryce crushed one with no outs and one on to win it on a hot summer day.
3. 5/9/2015 vs the Braves
I do not hesitate when I say that this ball was crushed. After the 2015 MVP had spent the last few days having his way with opposing pitchers, he put a bow on top by clobbering a walk-off two-run homer with one out in the ninth. This was during a stretch when Harper hit six home runs in three games. Harper had hit a number of walk-offs before then, but this was quite possibly where the clutch reputation began.
2. 5/13/2017 vs the Phillies
Perhaps better known as the Contract Game, Bryce decided to put the entire team on his back. A comeback for the ages after being down 4-0 midway through the game, the Nats clawed their way back, and Bryce ended it was an absolute monster two-run home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth. This might possibly be one of the farthest homers Bryce has ever hit, and it’s only appropriate he did it on the day he signed his contract extension. As my sister says, “Hit dingers, get money.”
1. 4/16/2017 vs the Phillies
It’s the bottom of the 9th. The Nats are down one after the Phillies took the lead late. Coming on the heels of a Phillies win on an 8th-inning home run, it’s a full count with two outs, and the Phillies are a strike away from yet another win. In steps Harper, walk-off hero. With the Nats down a run and clinging to life with two men on, Bryce Harper brutalized the baseball for a three-run, game-winning home run to steal a win and leave Nationals Park elated.
Some may not agree, but in my mind this is the biggest, most significant, and most clutch walk -off Harper has ever hit. And if history has anything to say about it, there are many more walk-offs to come.