Grading Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper’s 2020 season
After not knowing if a season will be played in any way, shape, or form, the Major League Baseball season of 60 games finally was put into motion. While it was a season like none other, without fans, vastly abbreviated, and limited in the number of opponents, it nevertheless went down as a “season” and Phillies baseball was played.
As the Phillies had themselves in an excellent position to make the playoffs despite one of the worst bullpens of all time, they crumbled over the final couple weeks and missed for the ninth straight season. Now it’s time for season graded and who best to start with than the top star of the team, Bryce Harper.
In customary fashion, Harper got off to a quick start, belting two home runs in the first five games and had an OPS of 1.054. Over a nine-game hitting streak from August 9-18, Harper went 15-for-33 with three home runs and 10 RBI, raising his average to .367 with an OPS of 1.186.
After the hot stretch, Harper cooled off in a big way, going just 9-for-66 with three home runs over the next 29 games. He broke out of the slump over the next three games, blasting three home runs, but then went on a 1-for-17 skid. Much of the cause of the struggles were revealed after Harper removed himself from the game against the Nationals on September 20 due to lower back stiffness. It was made known that the issue was bothering Harper for the better part of a month.
Harper ended the season on a high note, going 7-for-11 with two home runs over the last four games. All told, Harper hit .268 with 13 home runs, 33 RBI, a league-leading 49 walks, 41 runs, 8 stolen bases, .420 on-base percentage, .542 slugging percentage, and .962 OPS.
Project Harper’s numbers over a full 162-game schedule and they look as follows: 35 home runs, 90 RBI, 22 stolen bases, 111 runs, and 132 walks. His on-base percentage was the second-highest of his career, and his slugging percentage and OPS third behind his MVP season of 2015 and 2017. In the field, Harper was very solid, committing just one error in 70 chances for a fielding percentage of .985.
Although very streaky, as is the case with a large percentage of players, we have to look at Harper’s season as a whole. When breaking it all down, he led the team in runs, home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Harper’s season goes down as the third-best overall of his career and earns an overall grade of A-.