I’ll come clean.
I’ve always liked Bryce Harper. Liked the way he plays, the intensity he exudes when he plays, the potential he shows with his play, and, frankly, often the production he supplies with his play.
But I realize he is not everyone’s proverbial cup of tea or – ugh – coffee, for any number of reasons. Chief among them being his maddening propensity to be Babe Ruth at the plate one week and Larry Bowa the next.
Even for the staunchest Bowa supporters in Philly, that’s not gonna cut it. Not when it comes to a power-hitting investment who came with a $330 million price tag to be stretched out over 13 years.
Still, the always looming, and sometimes, like last weekend when San Diego stopped by Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series, ever present “if only we had signed Manny Machado instead of Harper three years when both were high-profile free agents” whining by so many in Phillies Nation never fails to surprise me.
Especially since it is done in such mind-boggling, “there is a huge gap between them” fashion, with that gap in Machado’s favor.
Reality says otherwise. Even – gasp – this season.
Despite intermittent comments about Machado’s defense being so much better (it is?), and at a more critical defensive position (is it anymore?), to put a hedge on their bets, this is about offense – first, last and always. Or, really, this is more about perception of offense from the two individuals.
Entering action Friday, Machado tops the Phillies right fielder in one key category, hitting with runners in scoring position.
In just about every other one, Harper, even with being in the lineup for 17 fewer games, tops the Padres third baseman.
Consider this, even with Machado’s 59 to 31 advantage in RBIs, Harper has a higher batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.
Harper goes .281, .382, .528 and .909 across that board.
Machado goes .271, .358, .486 and .844 across the same.
Which should come as a shock to no one since those numbers pretty much mirror their entire major-league careers.
Over their 10 years …
Harper goes .276, .387, .514 and .901.
Machado goes .279, .338, .488 and .826.
Further, since Harper started playing in Philly and Machado in San Diego in 2018, here is reality:
In 280 games, Harper has 63 homers (124 total extra-base hits), 177 RBIs and 185 runs scored to go along with .267-.384-.520-.904.
In 298 games, Machado has 63 homers (115 total extra-base hits), 191 RBIs and 177 runs scored to go along with .269-.348-.492-.840.
Bottom line: They’re extremely comparable players. To the point where any “what if” or “if only” whines fueled by wishful thinking to have one or the other would be silly.
More cases than not actually could be made – via the numbers – that Harper is proving himself to be the better offensive player since he arrived in Philly and Machado in San Diego.
Preferring Machado because of his more low-key persona I get.
Beyond that, no, I don’t.