It's been a rough second half for Bryce Harper. The 19-year-old would have been hard-pressed to improve upon his first 81 games, when he was an All-Star and on pace to win National League Rookie of the Year, but Harper has struggled to even find his initial consistency. As ESPN's Keith Law notes, Harper has hit .221/.294/.343 since June 16.
And as we've seen, Harper's bats have received the brunt of his frustration.
During Monday's Nationals-Braves marathon, Harper smashed another piece of wood after striking out to end the bottom of the 11th inning. The Nationals ended up winning in 13 innings, 5-4.
The Washington Post noted that this was the fourth time Harper has had an issue with a bat this year. He's broken broken two bats at the plate and smashed a third over his knee. He also threw a bat off the dugout wall, which resulted in a nasty cut over his left eye.
As easy as it is to rail on Harper for these moments of immaturity, perhaps Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (who was a witness to Harper's third bat-smashing moment) put it best when asked about Harper's temper:
"[Harper] told me he was really sorry, it was terrible. I told him, 'Don't worry about it. I did the same thing, but when I was your age it was a metal bat and I was in high school.' It's a learning experience for him. He's just having to do it in front of the eyes of the whole country and the world."
Say what you will about Harper's actions, but at 19 years old and with the weight of a franchise on his shoulders, he should be allowed to make a mistake here and there.