Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was named the National League Rookie of the Year Monday night, making him not only the youngest position player ever to win the award but also the first member of the Nationals to take home a Baseball Writers Association of America honor since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.
You can read the whole story on Harper’s honor here.
The 20-year-old Nationals phenom took a few minutes to discuss the award on a conference call. Here are some of the highlights.
On if he’s had time to reflect on his year and if it lived up to his expectations of what his first year in the majors would be like: “I just really think this year was a lot of fun. I had a great group of guys around me. They made it the way I wanted it. To be able to go in there and try to win ballgames, to try to be a game changer for them, and try to be that guy who can come in and really play the game hard, play it the right way, really get the fans of D.C. excited, that was my main goal, to try to win a World Series.
“That didn’t happen this year but hopefully next year we can do (it). Play hard and really try to succeed out there.”
On the Rookie of the Year Award: “This is 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 city of D.C. They deserve that. I think our organization deserves that. And I think that’s what my biggest goal is.”
On when he found out: “I found out when everybody else did. I was sitting in the chair, heart was beating a little bit. I think it was just a great moment for me and my family and everybody around. I think it was a great moment for D.C. It was a lot of fun to be able to see that and enjoy that and bring that in.”
On his first thought when the Nationals told him he was going to start the year in Triple-A: “It’s going to be really cold in Syracuse.
“I just really think going down there to learn a few things, work hard, play hard, 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 at that level. I had some guys down there that really helped me out, Jason Michaels was one of them, a big leaguer for a long time, and I think really trying to just learn the game a little more everyday down there.
“When I got that call I wanted to be ready 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 (spring training) 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, get up there as quickly as possible and try to be with all the guys that I wanted to be with.”
On the way he plays the game: “I think every little kid’s dream is to be a big league ballplayer or a doctor or a firefighter or whatever. That was my dream. I wanted to make that dream come true as quickly as possible. I wanted to be ready for that next step the day that they called me.
“All I wanted to do was try to be the guy that I was throughout my whole life and really try to enjoy myself playing baseball. I have a lot of fun playing this game. I’m not sure when I knew or when everybody knew (that this year could go the way it did). From my heart I think this game is unbelievable. I love it with everything I’ve got and I’m going to play it every single day like it’s my last.”
On how he dealt with struggles this season and if he learned from them: “You go through some ups and downs in the game. You’ve got to live with that. That’s going to be throughout your whole career. You can never figure this game out. It’s a hard game. You’ve just got to be as humble as you can and be as even-keeled as you can. You’ve just got to know that some nights you’re going to go 0-for-4 and some nights you’re going to go 3-for-4 and be a hero.
“You’ve just got to go in every single game trying to play it like it’s your last one 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.”
On Mike Trout, his former teammate from the Arizona Fall League, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award: “Mike Trout’s an unbelievable ballplayer. He’s one of the best players in baseball if not the best right now. I have a lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for the way he plays and how he hustles. The Angels, they should be excited for him. Everybody around that organization’s got to be excited to have him on their club. I’m really excited for him. I hope he has a good shot of winning MVP on Thursday.”
On if he thinks Trout will win the MVP award: “Miguel Cabrera’s pretty good with that Triple Crown but I think Trout had a great year and either guy deserves it. With Miguel Cabrera winning that Triple Crown that’s pretty unbelievable.”