Bryce Harper is 20 years old now. He turned 20 in mid-October. As a 19-year-old, the Washington Nationals' rookie outfielder hit more home runs (22) than any teenager in baseball history but the Boston Red Sox' Tony Conigliaro (24 HRs). The 2010 no.1 overall pick led all rookies in runs (98), OPS (.817), game-winning RBIs (12) and extra base hits (57) as the Nats noted in a press release about Harper being named the BBWAA's 2012 NL Rookie of the Year tonight.
Harper became the youngest position player to ever win the ROY Award and the second-youngest to win it behind only New York Mets' pitcher Dwight Gooden, who was a month younger than Harper when he won in 1984. Harper finished his rookie campaign with a .270/.340/.477 line, 26 doubles, nine triples and 22 HRs in 139 games and 597 PAs over which he was worth +4.9 fWAR. In the postseason, Harper hit one home run in the Nationals' NLDS matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the second-youngest player to hit a playoff HR and the first teenaged major leaguer to hit one since the youngest player ever, Andruw Jones, hit one for the Atlanta Braves in 1996.
Asked on the MLB Network's broadcast of the award ceremony tonight if he met his own expecations with the numbers he put up in his first MLB season, Harper told the show's hosts, "I didn't reach them. I'm never satisfied with any of my numbers. I think my biggest goal is winning a World Series. This amazing to win this award and to have this accolade, but I want to bring a title back to D.C. That's our main goal as a team, as an organization and that's my biggest goal and we didn't reach that and going into next year I think that's going to be the biggest goal for me."
Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo praised the Nats' outfielder in the press release from the team after Harper was announced as the NL ROY:
"Upon joining us, Bryce’s impact on our lineup and defensive alignment was immediate and came at a great time of need," said Mike Rizzo, Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. "His sustained energy and enthusiasm throughout the summer played a big part in fueling our division title. On behalf of the Lerner Family and the Nationals organization, I’d like to congratulate Bryce on his historic NL Rookie of the Year season."
In a teleconference with reporters tonight, Harper said that the goal from the start of his career this year was to, "... just to be able to go in there and really try to win ballgames and really come in and try to be a game changer for them. And just try to be that guy that can come in and play the game hard, play it the right way and come in and really get the fans of D.C. excited. That was my main goal and try to win a World Series. That didn't happen this year, but hopefully next year I can come in and we can do the same thing and really play hard and really try to succeed out there."
Harper didn't break Spring Training with the major league team, but he said tonight that he didn't ever doubt that he'd be up in the nation's capital sooner than later this season even though he started at Triple-A Syracuse. "I just [tried] to go down there and learn a few things [during] the time I [was] down there," Harper said, "Work hard. Play hard. And I knew it was only a moment in time really until I got to the big leagues. All I wanted to do was learn as much as I could down there at that level."
"When I got that call," Harper said, "I wanted to be ready and be able to make an impact with this team and this organization and I really just wanted to make it to the big leagues. Coming out of camp I thought maybe I could, but I got hurt down there and whatnot, so I really just wanted to try to succeed in Triple-A and get up to the big leagues as quick as possible and try to be up there with all the guys that I wanted to be with."
Harper wasn't told beforehand that he was going to win the BBWAA's NL Rookie of the Year Award tonight. "I actually found out when everybody else did," Harper told reporters, "I was sitting there in the chair, heart was beating a little bit and I found out when everybody else did. I think it was just a great moment for me and my family and everybody around and I think it was a great moment for D.C."
Looking back on his first MLB season, Harper said he learned that there would be, "... ups and downs in the game, and you've got to live with that. And that's going to be throughout your whole career. You can never figure this game out. It's a hard game and you've just got to be as humble as you can and even keel as you can and know that some nights you're going to 0 for 4 and some nights you're going to go 3 for 4 and be a hero. You've just really got to go into every single game trying to play it like it's your last one. Bust your butt. Hustle. And that's what you're going to get out of me. I'm going to hustle every single day and I'm going to play hard and try to win a ballgame for my team."
"Like I said," the Nats' 20-year-old outfielder concluded, "It's a great award and I'm so excited and proud of it, but my biggest thing is I want to win a World Series. I want to put that ring on my finger and give that to the town and city of D.C. They deserve that and I think our organization deserves that and that's what my biggest goal is."