Phillies: Bryce Harper may be the leadoff hitter Philadelphia needs
While it isn’t ideal for overall lineup construction, Bryce Harper may be the Phillies’ best bet to hit in the leadoff spot.
When the Phillies initially signed Bryce Harper, they expected him to pair with Rhys Hoskins to make the team’s most fearsome three-four combo since prime Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. While that was the case early in the season, the vacuum left by Andrew McCutchen in the leadoff spot has forced drastic measures.
After experimenting with Cesar Hernandez, Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, Corey Dickerson, and Roman Quinn hitting leadoff, Harper became manager Gabe Kapler‘s latest attempt to replace McCutchen. While it may not be ideal, Harper could turn out to be Philadelphia’s best option at the top of the lineup.
In four games earlier this year hitting leadoff, Harper did well, collecting five hits and three walks with a home run and three runs batted in. Looking back even further, he had a .273/.362/.573 line, 154 wRC+, and eight home runs in 29 games hitting leadoff as a National.
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Harper played one of the best games in his Phillies career Friday night hitting leadoff, only fueling the fire to keep him at the top of the lineup. He had his first multi-home run game as a Phillie, including a go-ahead three-run shot in the top of the seventh to give the team an 8-6 lead they would never relinquish.
How the lineup shapes up behind Harper is quite intriguing. Hoskins is still following up Harper, but he’s now hitting second. Dickerson, who’s off to a great start as a Phillie, is now hitting third. Segura, who’s about as far from the typical cleanup hitter as one can be, is now hitting cleanup. From there, the lineup looks a bit more typical with J.T. Realmuto, Hernandez, Kingery, and Adam Haseley, and rounding out the order.
Harper will start in the leadoff spot again Saturday afternoon, as Kapler is following the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. The rest of the lineup will be the same as well after scoring nine runs Friday night.
Harper has always done well as a leadoff hitter and continues to as a Phillie. While it’s not ideal for him to be hitting first instead of third or fourth, it may be what they need to have any sort of offensive success.