Bryce Harper Makes History in 2-0 Opening Day Win for Washington Nationals

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIApril 1, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals follows his fourth inning solo home run against the Miami Marlins during their opening day game at Nationals Park on April 1, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Bryce Harper accepted his 2012 National League Rookie of the Year Award prior to Monday's Opening Day contest against the Miami Marlins after hitting 22 home runs in his first season in the bigs.

Many believed he wasn't as deserving as some of the other candidates. Those same people believed he won based on name recognition and not his on-field performance.

Perhaps he wanted to silence those doubters in his first game of the 2013 season, or perhaps he has plans to move on to even bigger awards in his sophomore campaign. Either way, he started 2013 with a bang.

Harper homered on the second pitch he saw from Ricky Nolasco in the first inning of Monday's contest. He then homered again of Nolasco in his second at-bat. Both home runs went to right-center field.

With the multi-home run Opening Day, Harper became the youngest player in major league history to hit multiple home runs in the season's first game. He also became the fourth National to homer on Opening Day, joining Adam LaRoche (2006), Ryan Zimmerman (2008) and Chad Tracy (2009).

He even became the first defending Rookie of the Year since Ryan Howard in 2006 to homer on Opening Day.

The 20-year-old left fielder projects to hit third for the majority of the season for Davey Johnson after a stellar spring training. He hit .478/.500/.716 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 67 at-bats in Nationals camp. Many don't take spring statistics all that seriously, but it's obvious that Harper's strong showing has carried over into the regular season.

Harper was overshadowed by uber-rookie Mike Trout for nearly all of the 2012 season, and rightfully so. Trout took the baseball world by storm with arguably the best rookie season in MLB history. The two will forever by linked together, and Harper is likely looking to put himself in the same discussion production-wise with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder.

The sky's the limit for Harper. He has the potential to crush 30-plus home runs each season, but it may be unfair to expect that this early in his career. If his Opening Day production is any indication, though, Harper could be in for a monstrous season in 2013.

May all National League pitchers be warned.