Phillies’ Harper Happy for World Series-Bound Nationals

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 28: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Miami Marlins during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 28: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Miami Marlins during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Even though the Nationals are World Series-bound in the first season without Bryce Harper, the outfielder remains content with his decision to join the Phillies.

Before signing his then-record-breaking $330 million contract with the Phillies this past winter, Bryce Harper was a perennial Washington National.

After being drafted first overall in the 2020 amateur draft, the Las Vegas, Nevada, native played in  just 130 minor-league games before making his major-league debut as a 19-year-old in April 2012.

Harper quickly ascended, earning Rookie of the Year honors that season. Over. his seven-season Nationals stint, he earned six All-Star nods, and in 2015, Silver Slugger and Most Valuable Player awards.

RELATED | Bryce Harper breaks Phillies 100 RBI drought

With the Nationals, Harper never advanced past the National League Division Series, with his teams falling to the St. Louis Cardinals (2012), San Francisco Giants (2014), Los Angeles Dodgers (2016) and Chicago Cubs (2017).

After not qualifying for the postseason in 2018, Harper new it was time for change.

And, despite the Nationals being World Series-bound for the first time over their 86-year franchise history — in just his first season removed from the only other organization he had ever known — Harper, still, has no regrets.

Harper recently spoke about the topic to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, who writes:

"He knows what they’re saying. He knows what they’ve done to those old Bryce Harper jerseys. He knows all about America’s most convenient World Series storyline ….But Bryce Harper isn’t going down that road – or the just-as-convenient what if road, either. He’s well aware that he’s watching the postseason from his couch, if only because there aren’t 43,000 people sitting on it. He’s totally up to speed on how that postseason has turned out. He’s happy for his old friends. But if you think he’s playing the Boy did I screw up when I left that team game in his head these days, you’ll need to guess again."

When asked if he had any feelings of mixed emotions, or jealously, Harper quickly responded “no” to The Athletic, adding:

"They made their decision, and I made my decision as well. I made the best decision for my family. And I am so happy to be in Philly. It’s the place that I wanted to be.… You know, jealousy isn’t good. For me, it’s about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else."

Harper thrived in his first year of Philadelphia, albeit it taking a few months before he appeared to be comfortable in both his surroundings and at the plate. And understandably so, given he signed so late into spring training, coupled with needing to find a new home and his then-pregnant wife, among other considerations.

RELATED | Phillies 2019 season review: Just how good was Bryce Harper?

In 157 games in red pinstripes, Harper slugged a career-high 114 RBI. His previous career high, 100, came in his last season with the Nationals (2018) over two more games (159). Harper also slugged 36 doubles, and stole a team-high 15 bases.

He could not ask for a better first season donning a new uniform. Stark continues:

"[Harper] loves his new team, loves his new teammates, loves his new fans, loves where he lives, loves “the blue collar-ness” of his new town. And all of that, he said, has “made me love the game of baseball more than I ever have.”"

While Harper is not “jealous” of his former team being just four wins away from its first-ever World Series championship, he is still happy for them.

“You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it’s an amazing thing,” he tells The Athletic, adding:

"I’ve been watching a lot of [this postseason]. Those are the guys I played with and came through the organization with … I wish them nothing but the best. And that’s real. I have no hard feelings toward them, or Mike Rizzo, or anything like that. You know, they’re a great team. And that’s why they are where they are."

Even former Phillies World Series-winning outfielder Jayson Werth, who played six seasons with Harper down in the nation’s capital and frequently served as his mentor, is against the “Harper hate.” Werth told The Athletic that “this is such a non-topic”:

"“I think it’s a joke, that people are saying they won because Bryce Harper’s not on their team. They won because they’re dominant, and because they’re a team with no holes – not because Bryce Harper’s not there.”"

Harper thrived with the Phillies. And the Nationals are thriving without him. For Harper, if anything, it means extra motivation to succeed in 2020.