Phillies: Bryce Harper on track for career-best season
By Matt Rappa
Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is off to a great start to the 2020 season
If he keeps it up, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is having one of, if not the best seasons so far in his nine-year career and should receive significant consideration for his second career Most Valuable Player Award.
During the Phillies’ 13-6 series opener win against the Boston Red Sox at the historic Fenway Park, Harper crushed a three-run homer during a seven-run sixth inning — all runs in which scored with two outs.
With his home run, Harper reached base for the 18th time in as many games to start the 2020 season, joining Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn (1956-57) as the only players in Phillies history to kick off back-to-back seasons with a 15-plus-game on-base streak.
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The six-time All-Star’s three-run blast was also his 40th overall as a Phillie. Overall as a Phillie dating back to the start of the 2019 season, Harper is slashing .270/.383/.528 in 757 plate appearances, going yard once every 18.9 plate appearances. With the Nationals, Harper slashed .279/.388/.512 with a home run once every 21.5 plate appearances, notes NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman.
Harper’s 2-for-5 performance on Tuesday is just a small sample size of an overall great start to the shortened 2020 season. The Las Vegas, Nevada native not only has five home runs, 15 RBI, and more walks (12) than strikeouts (11), but he also has 12 RBI in his last 14 games, seven multi-hit games, and is four-for-four on stolen base attempts.
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Harper currently leads Major League Baseball in on-base percentage (.486) and trails only the Cincinnati Reds’ Jesse Winker (1.196) in OPS (1.186). Also, Harper’s .367 batting average ranks as the fourth-best in MLB, and his .700 slugging percentage ranks as the fifth-best.
During his 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award season with the Washington Nationals, Harper slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs, 99 RBI, and an 1.109 OPS.
In a 162-game season, Harper would be on pace for a career-high 45 home runs and a career-high 135 RBI. Each leg of his current .367/.486/.700 slash line would also set career highs, all previously set in 2015.
Harper is on pace to set the Phillies single-season slugging percentage record, set by Chuck Klein in 1930 — .687.
It is hard not to like what Harper is doing so far in his first season under 2009 World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi. Eighteen games into the season, the Phillies sit at 9-9 and are winners of four straight games; things are surely trending in the right direction.