MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Baker: Harper still learning to be leader

Young MVP looks to Werth, Zimmerman as models

Baker: Harper still learning to be leader

VIERA, Fla. -- Bryce Harper is a rock star on the baseball diamond. Look at what the Nationals' outfielder has accomplished in just four seasons -- Rookie of the Year in 2012, National League Most Valuable Player three years later, three All-Star Games.

But what Harper has accomplished on the field does not mean he is the leader on the team yet, according to new Nats manager Dusty Baker. However, Baker believes the 23-year-old Harper has leadership potential and could learn from teammates such as Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and even Jonathan Papelbon.

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"How many people are going to follow the youngest kid in the room? And just because you're the most talented doesn't mean that you're the leader," Baker said Monday at Spring Training. "I don't think it's really fair to put that even on [Harper]. I think he has some good examples when he does take over a leadership role.

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"I've always said that leaders are anointed, they're not appointed. People gravitate toward leaders. Ted Williams was the MVP, but I never heard Ted Williams was a leader. Did you guys ever hear that? ... Great player, great man."

During his first news conference of the season on Monday, Harper said he's a guy who just plays the game -- though he is looking to be a leader in the future.

"I'm not a very vocal guy, so I really go out there and just play the game I can and not really take a guy inside or in front of a camera and say, 'Oh, hey, you got to do this,'" Harper said.

"But I'm still at that stage of where I'm still looking at [Werth], I'm still looking at [Zimmerman] to do everything they can to make the best for this team. [I] play as hard as I can out there and lead by example. That's the best thing I can do."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.