Bryce Harper had an MVP-caliber season for the Philadelphia Phillies
However, three seasons in, and the Phillies have yet to appear in a single playoff game. This season, the postseason drought reached 10 years, though they did have their first winning season in a decade. That is not a reflection on the play of Harper, particularly in 2021 when he put together a season worthy of the NL MVP.
Despite carrying the team on his back throughout the second half of the season, Harper’s harshest critics will point to his struggles at the plate in the end-of-season series against the Braves. The fact is that the entire Phillies’ lineup came up woefully short against a dominant Braves pitching staff, and without Harper, they wouldn’t have even been relevant in late September.
Let’s break down Harper‘s 2021 season.
Harper didn’t hit his first home run until the eighth game of the season, but had a very productive month in April, hitting .321 with six home runs and a 1.063 OPS. He escaped major injury from a 97 mph fastball to the face on April 28, but did suffer a wrist contusion and other nagging injuries throughout May. The result was a .211 average for the month with just one home run and 26 strikeouts in 57 at-bats.
The slugging outfielder picked up the pace in June, particularly over the final eight games of the month, in which he belted five home runs in 28 at-bats. During July, Harper knocked in 15 runs with a .333 average, .452 on-base percentage, and 1.023 OPS.
Harper was at his best during the “dog days of summer.” His numbers for the month were Ruth-esque, hitting .337 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, 25 RBI, a .776 slugging percentage, and OPS of 1.231. After another nine home runs and 21 RBI the rest of the way, Harper put together the second-best season of his career.
The totals were staggering. Despite missing 21 games, Harper hit .309 with 35 home runs, 84 RBI, 42 doubles, 101 runs, 100 walks, .615 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS. He led MLB in doubles, slugging percentage, and OPS, and was second in the National League in walks, fourth in average, and sixth in runs scored and home runs.
Defensively, Harper ranked second among NL right fielders in assists with ten, committed only one error, and his .996 fielding percentage was second among NL rightfielders.
Anyone that had complaints about Harper’s 2021 season is just a hater, plain and simple.