Increased patience fueling Bryce Harper's spectacular season

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WASHINGTON -- The game was over and the fireworks were about to start Friday evening, and F.P. Santangelo, an analyst on Washington Nationals broadcasts, scurried down the runway so he'd be in better position to see the show.

But over his shoulder, Santangelo passed along an observation. "It's surprised me," he said, "that it's taken this long for somebody to give him the Barry Bonds treatment."

He was talking about Bryce Harper, the 22-year-old right fielder for the Washington Nationals, who is hitting in a way that nobody has at his age since Ted Williams. Harper is hitting .337 with 24 homers and 58 RBIs in Washington's first 80 games, and rather than deal with all of that, the Giants essentially decided to handle Harper the same way other teams dealt with Barry Bonds in his prime, as Santangelo mentioned.

The Giants didn't throw him strikes.

"Boch is smart," Santangelo added, referring to Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Harper didn't swing the bat in his first two plate appearances, drawing two walks, the first of which was intentional after Jake Peavy reached two balls.