For the majority of the 2019 Major League Baseball season, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper has been the subject of intense media scrutiny for his inconsistent performance in the batters box. Obviously, that type of criticism comes standard when you’re a prized free agent who signs a contract earning $330 million over the next thirteen seasons, essentially becoming the City of Brotherly Love’s franchise icon of the next decade.
Harper’s Goliath-esque contract brings insurmountable expectations for the left-handed slugger. Still, he seems poised to carry the weight. The Associated Press and baseball fans clamour for home runs and victories. Both have been difficult for Bryce and his teammates to come by until recently.
Entering the stretch run of his inaugural season in Philadelphia, this charismatic Harper is heating up just like the nation’s heat index this August. With two weeks remaining, his performance to this point has been blistering and the former National League MVP isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
The Phillies have played 20 games since the first day of the month. During that stretch they’ve managed to pull within 1.5 games of the Chicago Cubs for a chance to claim the NL’s final wild card spot. Can they follow Harper’s lead and slug their way into the playoffs?
Since August 1st, Bryce’s statline is as follows: 9 HRs/20 RBIs/12 BBs/16 Runs. His slugging percentage and OPS numbers are up too. Perhaps, he will continue the torrid pace? He is a streaky hitter whose hot-streaks can be Halloween Michael Myers scary.
October is right around the corner and it’s quite clear that Harper has been worth the price of admission. Phillies’ average attendance sits at 34,606 seats filled per game, up from 26,644 a year ago. Increases like that are simultaneous with concession and merchandise sales, thus suggesting that the Phillies’ majority owner John S. Middleton has to be pleased with the early returns of his investment.
Can Harper shake his inconsistency and lead the Phillies in returning to World Series form?
Surely, anything less than a championship during the next thirteen years will be deemed a failure. The odds are good, because at only 26 years old it’s likely Harper hasn’t even entered the prime years of his career. If his 2015 MVP campaign and sporadic hot-streaks suggest anything, it’s that Bryce has the potential to become a sure-fire-Hall-of-Fame hitter when reaching his full potential.
Each violent swing of his bat will become must-see-television, reminiscent of home run-king Barry Bonds at the turn of the century. His hustle is already mirrored in the image of Pete Rose. is massive contract eclipses the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado and Alex Rodriguez, coming only second to the incredible Mike Trout. Being mentioned among baseball royalty can be a difficult company to keep. Nevertheless, Harper is sure to up the ante trying to prove he is worth every dollar of his once record-breaking deal, while also seeking to carve his face on Major League Baseball’s modern-day Mount Rushmore.
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