by Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
Bottom line: He produces.
As maddeningly inconsistent and glaringly light with the eye-popping power displays in his first season with the Phillies as Bryce Harper may be thus far, there is no denying that.
Oh, some may try – pointing out his subpar batting average, a legit beef, or stating that teammate Rhys Hoskins shoulders most of the team’s offensive load, a laughable one. But the reality is, even with all the scuffling he has endured at the plate during much of the 2019 campaign’s first half, dipping as low as .219 after six weeks, as Harper enters his 99th game in Philly attire this evening in Pittsburgh, he has been one of Major League Baseball’s best run producers.
Forget your frustration with his sometimes ill-advised baserunning for a minute. Or your dislike for his celebratory sneers or your jealousy of his flowing hair. Or distaste for his mind-boggling, uber-long-term contract.
Here are the facts:
Not bad for a guy, well, struggling a bit in his initial season with a new team.
Thing is, this is not a career year for Harper, who is behind the pace of most averages for his first seven seasons. His MVP season of 2015, he hit 42 homers with a .330 batting average, .460 on-base percentage and .649 slugging percentage for a rather Ruthian 1.109 OPS.
But it is a career year for the likes of fellow big-namers Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yellich and Freddie Freeman. Yet, still, Harper’s production is within striking distance of all.
Thanks to his current 15-game surge (15 RBIs and 8 runs scored while going .351, .431, .596 and 1.027 on the averages), Harper has 109 runs produced (70 RBIs plus 56 runs scored, minus 17 homers).
Comparatively speaking, Freeman has 124 (76 + 73 – 25) and Yellich 113 (75 + 73 – 35) while Trout (75 + 75 – 30) and Bellinger (77 + 77 – 34) both have 120.
Pirates slugger Josh Bell (84 + 71 – 27) and Boston’s Rafael Devers (73 + 74 – 19) pace the majors at 128 apiece, with Devers’ teammate, Xander Bogaerts (74 + 74 – 21), bumping up from good to great status this season, at 127.
Anthony Rendon (116 runs produced), has picked up the pace in Harper’s absence in Washington, but, again, he’s having a career year, and Mets rookie Pete Alfonso (100) has been a revelation.
Harper, meanwhile, though starting to warm up, has yet to really go off, as he is prone to do at some point each season … and he’s already been producing at a high level by MLB 2019 standards.
For further perspective on that, consider Manny Machado.
The former Baltimore shortstop was the 1A to Harper’s 1 status in the most recent free-agent market and has had a solid start in San Diego. In fact, he’s shown more power than Harper, drilling 24 homers. But he trails Harper in runs produced, his 96 total 13 less than what the Phillies right fielder has posted.
Take note, Philly fans and media, Hoskins trails Harper by 18 … and that margin has been growing of late. Quickly.
So, pick him apart, if you like. Or simply enjoy watching him play.
Either way, bottom line: He produces.
LAST 15 GAMES
Beginning on June 31, Harper has:
TOP RUN PRODUCERS
RBIs plus runs scored, minus home runs, through July 19: