2. Harper loves playing in Philadelphia
ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi (a Philadelphia super-fan) loves this stat: among active players with at least 200 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Harper ranks first in career slugging percentage out of 71 players (.564). Second on that list is Harper’s new teammate Rhys Hoskins (.562).
Harper also has hit 14 home runs, hitting them out at a rate of a home run every 14.8 plate appearances. Ryan Howard, who has the most home runs at Citizens Bank Park (198) had a home run rate of one home run every 16.1 plate appearances. I think it’s safe to say that Harper enjoys the right field porch that sits 330 feet away from home plate.
Basing his projected 2019 numbers off his career average of 4.22 plate appearances per game and 81 home games a season, Harper will have 342 plate appearances and hit 23 home runs just at home!
Comparing that to the most recent left-handed Phillies slugger to win MVP, Howard in 2006 hit 29 home runs at home. Harper will only get more familiar with his surroundings as the season goes on, so his home run rate may even increase. And, with the projected lineup slotting him right in front of Hoskins coming off a 34 home run season, Harper will definitely get some pitches to hit this season.
The 2018 Nationals didn’t have much protection for Harper, with Anthony Rendon batting fourth having only 24 home runs.
I anticipate Harper’s numbers to reflect Howard’s career, feasting on the short right field fence with the help of another slugger in the lineup.