• Conor Byrne

Let’s Pump The Brakes, Phillies Fans

So, in case you have been living under a rock today Bryce Harper has agreed to a 13 Year 330 Million Dollar contract with the Philadelphia Phillies assuring he will be in a Phillies uniform until his age 39 season in 2032. Harper has been highly praised since he was just sixteen years old on the cover of Sports Illustrated showing off his ability to throw 96 MPH and the ability to hit 570-foot home runs. Fast Forward 10 years and Bryce has hit the free agent market for the first time with a Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger, 6 All-Star appearances, a Home Run Derby trophy and an MVP award under his belt. Harper has been one of MLB’s most recognizable faces for the last 7 years and with Scott Boras as his agent there wasn’t a chance in the world Harper signed for a penny less than the contract record.

Quick side story (I promise it’s important)…2007 Mets collapse and the Phillies make the playoffs, 2008 the Phillies beat the Rays to win the World Series, 2009 the Phillies make the World Series again but lose to the Yankees which is oh so much worse… growing up with your division rival doing that to you burns a certain amount of hatred buried deep down inside you that never really goes away. The Phillies eventually got old and irrelevant and other than a brief Braves revitalization, the Nationals rose in power backed by, you guessed it Bryce Harper… one can imagine my displeasure when I got the text from FTB’s own Nick Beaudoin that the two things that caused me so much sports pain decided to join force.

Now we all kinda knew this was coming. Back in November the Phillies owner John Middleton was quoted saying “We're going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it" so everyone and their brother knew that meant Harper or Machado was going to end up in Phillies red for a long time.

But after a brief hissy fit I remembered…. Harper kinda sucks now. Hear me out, after his MVP season in 2015, a season that the Nationals choked missing the playoffs and where Harper fought his own teammate in the dugout, Harper was injured in 2016 being limited to 147 games and again in 2017 being limited to just 111 games. Harper has had a long battle with injuries only playing more than 147 games two time (2015,2018). He isn’t the player he used to be, especially in the field. He has a tougher time getting to balls and fielding them properly. On top of that his bat has decreased in effectiveness. A slash line of .249/.393/.496 isn’t great but his home run power is still there hitting 34 last seasons. His Baseball Reference WAR last season was 1.3, for reference that is tied for 12th on the Mets last season with the backup to the backup catcher Kevin Plawecki which means…and no I’m not kidding…according to WAR 38-year-old José Bautista had a better statistical season than him. For his career his clutch stats aren’t great either, take a look…

And possibly the stat that exposes him the most, his slash line against Power pitchers .235/.366/.447. While he no longer has to face the likes of Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta he now has to face Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and the animal that is Max Scherzer. Oh, and let’s not forget the rest of the power pitchers in the East (deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz Diaz, Familia, Foltynewicz, Newcomb, Gausman, Teheran, and Vizcaino).

Now I’m not stupid, I’m well aware that there is a 25-man roster it isn’t all about one player. But thanks to our friends over at MLB Network I don’t have to do much heavy lifting on this one…

You read that correctly even with Harper plugged into the middle of that lineup they are tied for the second-best lineup in the division and a NEGATIVE SIXTY SEVEN DEFENSIVE RUNS SAVED. On top of that the Phillies rotation still has some question marks and fell apart half way through last season.

The NL East is going to be a fight all year long with 4 of the 5 teams in the division trying to go for it the NL East is by far the most interesting division in 2019. The addition of Harper makes the Phillies better now and, in the future, especially with the DH on its way to the National League soon but let’s not get things confused. The Phillies payed for the name Bryce Harper not the player, people anointing them as instant World Series favorites aren’t looking at 2019 Bryce they are looking at 2015 Bryce and sure aren’t looking at his postseason stats. I’m happy this saga is finally over and am looking forward to the start of the regular season and what is sure to be an all-out war for the NL East crown.

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