Nats star reaches base in all 7 plate appearances in loss to Cubs
By Matt Kelly
Bryce Harper's 42 home runs were the main headline-grabber during his 2015 unanimous National League Most Valuable Player Award-winning season. But just behind the power numbers was his .460 on-base percentage -- the best in baseball -- that proved he is way more than a swing-for-the-fences-type player.
On Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Harper proved once again that he's as adept at anyone at getting on base. Harper picked up his pink Mother's Day bat and strode to the plate seven times, then proceeded to stride leisurely to first base each time. It was all in a day in which Harper became the first player in modern Major League baseball history to have seven plate appearances in a game without recording a single official at-bat as part of the Nationals' 4-3 loss in 13 innings to the Cubs.
Harper drew six walks -- three of them intentional -- and was also hit by a pitch. Here are some other facts and figures to know from his truly unique day at the plate:
• With those six walks, Harper tied Jeff Bagwell (1999), Andre Thornton ('84) and Jimmie Foxx ('38) for the most in a single game. Bagwell needed eight plate appearances to reach six walks for the Astros in a 16-inning contest, Thornton also needed eight over 16 frames for the Indians and Foxx remarkably walked in all six of his plate appearances for the Red Sox in a nine-inning affair against the St. Louis Browns.
• Harper saw 27 pitches in his seven plate appearances, and he didn't swing a single time. He took two called strikes in the game.
• With runners on second and third in the top of the fourth, Jake Arrieta issued an intentional walk to Harper to load the bases. It was the first time Arrieta walked anyone intentionally since July 30, 2015, against Brewers third baseman Hernan Perez.
• In the Nationals' four-game series against the Cubs, Harper did not see a lot of action at the plate. He drew 13 walks, the most by a player in a single series since at least 1913, and he recorded just four official at-bats in four games. Harper finished the series 1-for-4. The Washington slugger did not record an at-bat in his final 12 plate appearances of the series.
• Four players in MLB history have reached safely in all seven plate appearances in a game, but Harper is the first to do so without a hit.
• Harper is the 23rd player since 1913 to reach base safely at least seven times, but score no more than once. It has now happened eight times since 2000, with Paul Goldschmidt the most recent to do it on May 31, 2015.
• While Harper, 23, is the fourth player to walk six times in a game, he's the first to do so before age 30. Six players have walked five times in a game at a younger age, none since Rickey Henderson on April 8, 1982.
• Harper is the fifth player to log at least three games with four or more walks by the end of his age-23 season, joining Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Mel Ott, Joe Morgan and Henderson.
• Drawing three intentional walks in a game, as Harper did Sunday, has been achieved multiple times. But only eight players have drawn at least four intentional walks in a game since the statistic was first kept in 1955. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson drew a record five intentional walks as a Cub on May 22, 1990, against the Reds.
• The Royals, as a team, have not had a six-walk game this season. Six other clubs have only one.
• Harper's 0-for-0 line with six walks and a hit-by-pitch is the first of its kind since at least 1913.
• In one day, Harper's on-base percentage jumped from .400 to .432. He began the Nationals' four-game series with a .372 OBP, meaning his percentage elevated an incredible 60 points in just four days with only one hit.
• Harper now has 30 walks in 31 games, meaning he is on pace for 148 walks this season if he matches his 153-game workload from 2015. Only nine players in history have reached 148 walks in a season, the most recent being Barry Bonds (232) in '04.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.