The Bryce Harper Experiment - Year 1 (So far)
Since the day Bryce Harper signed his mega 13-year $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies the expectations were palpable. Many predicted a 40-home run season, over 100 RBIs, over 100 walks, and even a National League MVP trophy.
That was Spring Training talk.
As we approach the league's mid-way point, the All-Star Game, Harper isn't on that roster and he's actually catching a lot of heat by the national media. Through 84 games Harper has produced a slash line of .250/.368/.471/.839, with 15 home runs and 59 RBI. The alarming stat comes in the form of strikeouts and walks. Harper leads the league with 101 strikeouts and only has 59 walks. He's whiffing more and walking less than he ever has. And that's alarming.
The Phillies had an issue with Carlos Santana last season for putting up suspect numbers and he's starting for the American League in the ASG next week. Irony at its finest. Santana is hitting .293/.411/.535/.945, with 18 homers and 50 RBI. However, he has nearly half the strikeouts as Harper (54) and one less walk (58). It's truly spectacular to look at the comparisons.
Regardless of the Harper's struggles, he's still pacing to drive in the most runs of his career and another 30 home run season. The strikeouts are worrisome and the lack of walks are unacceptable. Nonetheless, Harper remains one of the most feared hitters in baseball and the evidence of that can be seen in most at-bats.
The 26 year old slugger is one of the best players in MLB at drawing out at-bats and seeing a lot of pitches.
Look, Harper has been underwhelming if Phillies fans are being honest. Myself being one of them. However, so much has to be analyzed thus far. Harper has been superb in the outfield and has impressively shook the stigma that's plagued him his whole career being pegged as a defensive liability.