Surprising parts of Bryce Harper's game

Updated: May 6, 2012, 10:57 AM ET
By Buster Olney

WASHINGTON -- Shane Victorino first met Bryce Harper three winters ago in a batting cage in Las Vegas, where both of them live. Harper's father was throwing batting practice, and Victorino took turns and heard the teenager assess his swings. "Homer," Harper would say to himself when he hit a ball well.

Victorino sent Harper a text message when he got called up last weekend, and before the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals played on Friday, Victorino greeted Harper behind the batting cage and congratulated him. Don't worry about haters and what they say, Victorino told Harper. "Just keep playing hard."

Harper came to the big leagues at age 19, arriving after years of advance notice about his powerful swing, about his eye black, about his raging confidence. And yet there are two things about his ability and style that have surprised other players and scouts: