Phillies 2021 Season Player Preview: Bryce Harper
Two years ago — March 1, 2019 — the Philadelphia Phillies officially signed Bryce Harper to a then-record 13-year, $330 million contract. After a relatively slow start that season, Harper got hot and showed why he is one of the top players in Major League Baseball. Among his big hits were the walk-off grand slam against the Chicago Cubs. Harper finished his first season with the Phillies with 35 home runs, 114 RBI, and 98 runs scored.
Although poised for bigger and better things in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, halting play for months. While baseball would be played, the season was limited to 60 games and the Phillies failed to make the postseason yet again. Harper put up some very good overall numbers with 13 home runs, a .962 OPS and a league-leading 49 walks. Projected to a full season his 2020 season numbers would be 35 home runs, 111 runs, 132 walks, and 22 stolen bases.
Predicting how Bryce Harper will fare in his third season with the Phillies
So, what’s in store for Harper in 2021? He entered spring training in great shape, appearing to have added bulk to his already very strong, athletic frame. Harper feels the Phillies play in the toughest division in the majors, but feels with the additions and re-signings of J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, the Phillies will be in the mix. Harper even mentioned he doesn’t plan to give out Halloween candy this year, suggesting he wants a deep postseason run.
For that to happen, we may need to see Harper approach his 2015 MVP numbers. While that is a stretch in terms of a .330 batting average, Harper has steadily increased his production during his 215 games in red pinstripes. The sense is that he is ready to take over and have a monster season in 2021.
Harper is on a 40-home run per year pace at Citizens Bank Park over the last two years. His road numbers are actually only a bit less, but the key will be hitting at home. Expect Harper to approach his lofty career averages at the venue. His 33 home runs, 95 RBI, 105 runs scored averages over 162 games are certainly solid, but Harper and fans expect more. This season, Harper will deliver with a 40-plus home run season. While he won’t push the .330 average in his MVP season, an average around .280-plus is not out of the question. Remember, Harper will also add solid defense and an arm opposing runners will not test.
Let’s call Harper’s final totals — assuming he stays healthy — to be 40-45 home runs, 120 RBI, 100 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a .280 batting average. If he puts up those totals, the Phillies will have a much better chance to welcome back Red October.