The secret to Bryce Harper's success has been lurking under his helmet all along
There are a few things you need to know about Bryce Harper. He was probably the most hyped prospect in baseball history. He signed a record-setting 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies over the offseason. He won the NL MVP Award in 2015 after posting one of the greatest offensive seasons ever.
None of those facts, however, are as important as this one foundational Bryce Harper fact: He has great hair.
Sure, that might not seem significant at first, but 1) seriously, have you seen it? and 2) it's possible that his glorious mane is the only thing you need to know about him -- and holds the key to his success on the baseball field.
Harper's first season in Philadelphia has been marked by stunning highs and crushing lows. Through it all, his hair has followed suit. What I'd like to suggest is that this is no mere coincidence: As it turns out, Harper may be only as good as his hair is.
Over the years, Harper has gone through a truly impressive -- and, frankly, mind-numbing -- number of hairstyles. That hair has been synonymous with his success. When Harper won the Home Run Derby last year with a dramatic final round hot streak, his hair was blowing gloriously in the wind for all to see; when he hit a big postseason home run, his hair was in a position to offer the most glorious hair flip ever seen on a baseball field.
Bryce started his first season in Philly on fire, crushing home runs and earning a place in the famously skeptical hearts of the people of Philadelphia. Through it all, his hair was on point.
It glistened as he took a curtain call in his first series at Citizens Bank Park.
It flowed majestically as he trolled hostile fans at Nationals Park with a bow and fist pump.
But look at it on Tuesday night: When Harper capped the Phillies' 9-8 comeback win over the Dodgers with a walk-off double to center in the ninth, his helmet flew off and revealed a very good hair day:
Alas, Harper would not always be as hot -- both in terms of play and physical appearance -- as he was in those initial weeks. After a while, Harper's hair has seemed, frankly, lost. He'd chosen to just sort of aimlessly grow it out in an unacknowledged tribute to former Nationals and Phillies star Jayson Werth. At one point, Harper was ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes, and before leaving the field, he revealed that his play wasn't the only aspect of his life mired in a slump.
Anyone who has tried to grow out their hair or cultivate a beard is familiar with what Harper was going through there. The road from short to long hair and stubble to James Harden beard is paved with embarrassing photos and waning self-confidence.
With his walk-off Tuesday night, Harper definitively showed that his hair is out of that awkward slumping stage. That should come as good news to Phillies fans, since there's ample evidence his bat is along for the ride.
Eric Chesterton is a writer for MLB.com. He is an appreciator of the stolen base, the bunt against the shift and nearly every unconventional uniform design. He eagerly awaits Jamie Moyer's inevitable comeback.