Where does Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper stand when it comes to Cooperstown?
It’s June 8, 2009. Future Phillies outfielder and 16 year old High School phenom Bryce Harper is pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated titled “Baseball’s Chosen One“. Tom Verducci writes, “His name is Bryce Harper. You don’t know him, but every big league scouting director does. He hits the ball a desert mile, clocks 96 on the gun, and he’s only 16, more advanced than A-Rod and Junior were at the same age. And his ambition is as great as his talent.”
Since Harper was a teenager he’s had the “LeBron of baseball” stamp attached to his name. Over a year removed from signing a 13 year/$330-million dollar contract with Philadelphia, Bryce got what he has worked his whole life for, a long term deal with a team he will settle down with for over a decade.
Bryce Harper is entering his age 27 season, and as it is well-known that ages 27-32 are the peak of an athlete’s career. Through eight seasons he is slashing a career .276/.385/.512 with 219 home runs, 635 RBI and a WAR of 31.8. That’s a season average of 33 home runs, 95 RBI and a WAR of about 4. With twelve seasons left to go in Philadelphia, what does Harper’s Hall of Fame path look like?
Bryce has an NL Rookie of the Year Award, NL MVP Award, Silver Slugger and a six-time All Star with (hopefully, at least) 12 years left to play. If we look into his numbers right now he is on pace to end his career with his plaque sitting in Cooperstown with a Phillies ‘P’ on the cap.
Through the next twelve seasons, assuming the production stays around where it is, he is on pace to hit 548 home runs, 1,588 RBIs and a WAR of 79.5.
Those 548 home runs would be tied for 16th all-time with Mike Schmidt, 1,588 RBI would be 41st all-time and a WAR of 79.5 would rank 41st, just one spot behind Pete Rose who had 79.7. His career OPS of .897 currently ranks 69th all-time and the career OBP of .385 ranks better than Vlad Guerrero, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, and many more top tier hitters.
It is known that the type of contracts that Bryce was awarded are supposed to be electric in the beginning years but once the age starts creeping up the production goes down. In this case, Harper is about to enter the beginning of his prime, and a fully healthy and motivated Bryce Harper could blow by everybody’s expectations.
Bryce enters 2020 coming off a year he was top 4% in the league in BB%, top 6% in Barrel%, top 9% in xSLG and a Hard Hit percentage of 45.6% which is 36th best in the MLB.
He was also top 30 in exit velocity with 91.3 MPH and along with that, he showed a big improvement defensively as he finished top-three in Gold Glove voting for NL Right Fielders.
Phillies fans were more than pleased with Bryce Harper’s 2019 campaign, but 2020 could be the year we see a new monster come to play. After seeing him locked in at Clearwater, optimism is at an all-time high in Philadelphia for their superstar right fielder. You shouldn’t be surprised if we are hearing his name in NL MVP talks all throughout the new season, and hopefully down the road a speech at his Hall of Fame induction.