In the 2+ years since coming back from injury Stephen Strasburg has been one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball. Even ignoring the strong finish from 2011 only bumps him down to a Top 15 and he's at least two years younger than all but 2 names above him (and there are only 2 in that range in the next 14 below him). He's a clear #1 pitcher in his prime with likely a half-decade minimum of All-Star level performance ahead of him.
And Nats fans don't like him.
What Bryce Harper has done in this first two years in the game is amazing. Before the age of 21, when the vast majority of players are still in the minors or college, he's put up a .272 / .353 / .481 line. Only four players in the history of the game have done better in a comparable number of PAs by that age. Even expanding out to age 21, the numbers that produced at that level are miniscule and the list is overrun with Hall of Famers. Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Hanke Aaron, Ken Griffey.
And Nats fans are ready to turn on him unless he puts up a MVP type year in 2014.
I really hate fans sometimes.
Expectations are a tricky thing. If either Bryce or Strasburg had failed, or at least slowed down their ascent, in their minor league stints, it's likely that we would have written off those "generational talents" evaluations as wishful thinking. It happens all the time. Guys look good in HS or college, but they hit some hitch on their way up and either need some time to work on it or worse, can't overcome it at all. Neither Stras or Bryce really hit a hitch though. They were able to breeze through the minors and make it to the majors on schedule, if not before. Because of that they carried their whole "future Hall of Famers" expectations with them.
The kicker is they haven't even failed to live up to those lofty goals just yet. Bryce, because of his young age is still arguably on target for greatness. Strasburg, when looking at age, isn't that far off either, thanks in large part to the fickleness of pitching. Yet fans hate.
In large part I think it's because they not only have failed to live up to the outsized expectations, but we're, kind of amazingly, seeing others players reach those levels. There hasn't been anyone this young and phenomenal as Bryce since A-Rod... except for Mike Trout. In the decade since Mark Prior teased everyone with his ability, only King Felix and the burning out Tim Lincecum had shown themselves to pitch as well as Strasburg has at this young an age... but right at this instant Clayton Kershaw is doing it, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner are a "better than Stasburg 2014" from separating themselves from him, and guys like Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez have that potential.
Bryce and Strasburg are no longer just fighting to reach expectations that have only been met by a select few in 100+ years, they are now fighting to match someone who is looking like one of the great young players of all time, and possibly the best group of young pitchers we've seen since before the War, the first one. (we'll see - pitching has lots of ways of disappointing you)
This is all amusing and infuriating to me at the same time. The Nats have two of the best players under the age of 25 in baseball today and yet it feels like because it's not THE two best players under the age of 25 that it's some sort of failure. Really? Is that how some people look at the game?*.
Arrrrr. This is frustrating. I think this way of thinking is just so stupid and really kills any enjoyment from the game. It's "World Series or Bust" on a career level. But maybe you like viewing the world like this so I'm in a quandry. I guess we'll agree to disagree, and I'll agree to call you stupid every few months.
*Of course it is. There are like 80 college football programs that think that they can compete for a national championship like every 4 years with the right coach and support. That's not to mention the ones that feel they should compete on that level MORE OFTEN. Fans are stupid and unreasonable. It's part of the fun for some.