Nick Wass/Associated Press

Bryce Harper is 24 years old.

That’s a simple statement of fact, but it’s also a startling revelation. Harper, after all, has already compiled a career’s worth of Everest peaks and yawning valleys.

The Washington Nationals right fielder owns a National League Rookie of the Year Award and MVP trophy, has made four All-Star teams and rates among the game’s most magnetizing, marketable figures.

He’s also suffered his share of disappointment, including a lackluster 2016 season that followed on the heels of his MVP campaign.

Harper’s ’16 output wasn’t poor by mortal standards. For most players, hitting 24 homers with 21 stolen bases and an .814 OPS would be just peachy.

Harper isn’t most players, though. He’s a preternaturally talented lightning rod who has impacted the league with his swing and swagger since he debuted at age 19 in 2012.

After an MVP season in 2015, Harper fell to earth last year.

After an MVP season in 2015, Harper fell to earth last year.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

He exploded in 2015, cracking 42 home runs and pacing both leagues with a gaudy 1.109 OPS. His trajectory, it seemed, was aimed in one direction: skyward.

Then, he stumbled, as Yahoo Sports’ Chris Cwik outlined:

… It’s easy to see how Harper is facing a crucial year in 2017. The massive hype, intense criticism, insane breakthrough and disappointing follow-up make him a big question mark heading into 2017. Is Harper truly the once-in-a-generation player everyone predicted, or is he merely an above-average regular who is too cocky for his own good?

If you believe his agent, Scott Boras, Harper’s regression was due in large part to a nagging right shoulder injury. 

“I think Harp had an issue that he played through with, that he battled with—that was certainly uncomfortable but still allowed him to play,” Boras said on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio, per Chris Lingebach of CBS DC.

Whether or not that explanation holds water, Harper has been crushing it like a man whose problems are in the rearview.

Through 13 games, Harper is hitting .354 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a 1.162 OPS. He homered on Opening Day for the fifth time, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat before his 25th birthday, per MLB Stat of the Day.

And he made headlines with a walk-off, three-run moonshot against the Philadelphia Phillies on Easter Sunday, after which you can see him grudgingly swallowing a bat flip:

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