Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has elite power. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The 24-year-old already has 136 home runs, and is known for his incredible bat speed.
But in case you needed a reminder of what “elite” power and bat speed look like, Harper put that on display during Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. During his at-bat in the second inning, Harper hit a ball so hard that he ripped its cover.
You don’t see that every day. It’s pretty rare for a ball to tear at all during a game. It takes a special combination of a few factors for it to happen.
As Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo explained during the broadcast, Harper’s “cupped bat” probably had something to do with the feat. A cupped wooden bat features a circular divot on its end. You’ve likely seen them plenty of times.
Here’s a good picture of Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt using one, for reference:
As Santangelo explained, the area at the top of cupped bats can be sharp. That’s exactly where Harper hit the ball. He was out in front of the pitch from Alec Asher, making contact with the end of the bat. That caused the ball’s cover to tear as it bounced foul.
While the bat is mostly responsible for that feat, we would like to think Harper’s bat speed and strength played a role here. It’s pretty rare for any player to tear the cover on a ball, even when they obliterate a pitch. The fact that Harper was able to do it on a ball he fouled off probably gives you an idea of just how hard he swings the bat every time he steps in the box.
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