Bryce Harper’s historic Philadelphia Phillies contract, three years in

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 29: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on August 29, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 29: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on August 29, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Three years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Bryce Harper to his historic contract

Three years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies made history when they gave Bryce Harper a 13-year contract for $330M.

Not only was it the richest contract in franchise history and in Major League baseball history at that point, but it was also the richest in the history of North American professional sports. It was eclipsed by Mike Trout’s extension with the Angels not long after, but that’s beside the point.

On the anniversary of Harper’s deal, let’s look at his first three seasons in red pinstripes.

Harper came to the Phillies as a 26-year-old superstar who’d already accomplished more in seven seasons with their division-rival Washington Nationals than most players achieve in their careers. The first-overall pick in the 2010 June draft, Harper debuted in 2012 at only 19 years old. In his debut season, he was an All-Star and won NL Rookie of the year.

In 2015, he was an All-Star for the first time and won his first NL MVP and Silver Slugger awards as MLB’s leader in on-base and slugging percentages, as well as OPS and OPS+. He also led the National League in runs scored and home runs, hitting a still-career-high 42.

Harper was an All-Star six times in seven years in DC before signing with the Phillies, and oddly, has not been one since. But that’s fine; it’s far from the most important thing about a player.

In his debut season with the Phillies in 2019, Harper actually improved upon his performance from his final year with the Nats. Over fewer games than the year before, he had more hits, doubles, and RBI, stole more bases, and raised his batting average and slugging percentage.

Any enormous contract comes with the caveat of perennial analysis. Is the player living up to it? Did they ever deserve it in the first place? Will the contract pay off by the end, when it’s in the rearview mirror?

We’re still a decade away from knowing all the answers, but in the meantime, the spotlight is on the Phillies. Will they build a contending team around Harper before it’s too late?

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