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Harper’s Arrival Increases the Phillies Optimism

Harper’s Arrival Increases the Phillies Optimism
Before the Phillies signed free agent Bryce Harper, they had already enjoyed an outstanding off-season.

General manager Matt Klentak acquired two other all-stars, shortstop Jean Segura from Seattle and catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins.
 
There was also the underrated acquisition of reliver James Pazos, who had a 2.88 ERA in 60 appearances for Seattle.
 
And the Phillies signed reliever David Robertson as a free agent from the New York Yankees. Robertson has a career 2.88 ERA. He has also appeared in 30 postseason games.
 
The Phillies were markedly better after the offseason moves before signing Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract.
 
With Harper, the Phillies are legitimate East Division and World Series contenders.
 
The left-handed hitting Harper should prosper from hitting in a band box at Citizens Bank Park. Through his career he has hit well in Philadelphia. His career numbers at Citizens Bank Park: .268, 14 HR, 32 RBI, and a .930 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) in 208 plate appearances. The 14 homers is an all-time best in an opposing ballpark.
 
Last season he got off to a terrible start, but finished strong and ended up batting .249 with a 34 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI.
 
In looking at advanced metrics, he had a 133 OPS plus, which adjusts to ballparks, with 100 being average.
 
In fact for his career he has a 900 OPS, which is extremely impressive.
 
One criticism is that he hasn’t enjoyed a year like 2015 when he was the MVP after hitting .330 with 42 home runs, 99 RBI and a staggering 1.109 OPS and 198 OPS plus.
 
Yet since that season, here are Harper’s three-year averages: .267, 29 HR, 91 RBI, .897 OPS and 133 OPS+.
 
Consider that injuries limited Harper to 111 games in 2017.
 
Plus what is scary is that he is just entering his prime. Harper turned 26 in October. His best years are to come.
 
What had to really endure him to the Phillies fans is that he has no opt-outs in the deal. That shows he is putting all his faith in Philadelphia, thinks the team can be a contender for a long time.
 
Some are suggesting that the end of the contract, when he is 38, could produce diminished results. We’re not so sure of that. Especially since the designated hitter is expected to be in the National League in a few years. Harper could be used as a DH, if not full-time then at least enough to give him a breather from playing the field.
 
Harper has also extensive postseason experience with the Washington Nationals. He has been to the postseason four different years and even though the Nationals never won a series, the experience should be invaluable.
 
Harper also has five postseason home runs in 19 games.
 
At 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds, he should have big power numbers and Harper is one of the true drawing cards in baseball.
 

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Like all power hitters, he is prone to slumps and his 169 strikeouts last year was a career-high, but the positives outweigh the negative and Harpers arrival has given the Phillies and their fans hope that this could be a postseason team for the first time since 2011.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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