Mookie Betts vs. Bryce Harper -- and other pressing baseball debates

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Harper is off to an excellent start. He began the week leading the National League in home runs and walks, while ranking second in runs, third in RBIs and fourth in on-base percentage. Betts, however, is playing like Secretariat at the Belmont. He began the week leading the majors in home runs, runs, batting average and slugging percentage, while ranking second in WAR.

We all know Harper is going to receive a mega-payday in free agency, cheap nfl jerseys from china given his age -- he’ll turn 26 in October -- and potential to put up MVP-caliber numbers like he had in 2015 (when he won) and in 2017 (when he might have won if he hadn’t hurt his knee in August).

The weird thing about Harper’s 2018 numbers is that he has just two doubles to go with his 12 home runs. Betts, meanwhile, has remained a doubles machine even with all the home runs (13) and is on pace to top 40 doubles for the third straight season. Betts has been the better offensive player in 2018, but Harper holds a decisive edge over the four seasons, as Baseball-Reference estimates he has created 123 runs above average, compared to 73 for Betts.160

Harper supporters also might suggest that Betts is helped by a stronger lineup around him. Indeed, Harper has seen just 41.7 percent of pitches in the strike zone, the second-lowest rate in the majors. However, that figure matches his 41.8 percent rate since 2015, so he’s not necessarily being pitched more carefully this season than in the past. Betts also is helped by Fenway Park -- he has hit .314 there, compared to .277 on the road for his career, although he actually hits more home runs on the road. (He hits way more doubles at home, thank you, Green Monster.)

Anyway, it’s a close call. I’d take Betts for 2018, given his premier defense and hot start, wholesale nfl jerseys which suggests his offense might go to a new level. I might prefer Harper on a 10-year contract, but that’s gambling on his health.

For the third straight season and fourth season in five, Kershaw is going to miss time on the disabled list, this time with biceps tendinitis. Kershaw won his fifth ERA title in 2017, and his ERA since 2013 is 1.99. And it's at 2.86 this season, even as he was pitching with diminished velocity.

The concern isn’t so much his ability, but his ability to stay on the mound. He also has seen his home run rates increase drastically over the past two seasons, perhaps the strongest indicator that Peak Kershaw has come and gone.

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