Bryce Harper says he’ll do “whatever helps” as Joe Girardi moves him up the lineup amid Phillies’ offensive struggles
On paper, the Philadelphia Phillies have one of the best lineups in baseball. Their starting rotation and bullpen aren’t half-bad, either.
So why is it that every time they go to Miami, something goes horribly wrong?
This weekend, it was the pitchers letting the Marlins batters tee off them, while their own Philly bats stayed quiet in three of four contests. The first game on Thursday was a close one, but the Phillies lost 4-3. They followed that up by losing 7-1 on Friday, winning 10-3 on Saturday, and losing 11-3 in Sunday’s finale.
It got so bad that manager Joe Girardi made a significant change to his lineup. He dropped Kyle Schwarber from the leadoff spot all the way down to fifth, and replaced him with J.T. Realmuto. He also moved Bryce Harper up from third to second.
Harper, one of the only productive hitters in Sunday’s loss, said he’ll do “whatever” Girardi wants:
"“I mean, whatever helps us,” Harper said. “Whatever he wants us to do. If he thinks that’s going to make us better, then I’m all for it. Wherever he puts my name, I’ll show up and play. That’s how I feel about it.”"
Ahead of the series finale, Girardi explained the move:
"“I don’t want him to do anything different, I want him to be who he is. There’s a lot of top hitters in lineups around the league that hit second. It gets him 18 more at-bats, I think, per season, which is obviously good for us and good for him.(The No. 3 spot) used to be a glamour spot. I think it’s kind of changed.”"
Harper had a three-hit game and drove in two of their three runs, so clearly, the lineup move works thus far.
But overall, offensive production has been a problem for the Phillies throughout most of the early weeks of the new season. They put up nine runs on Opening Day, but have struggled to come close since. This series was no different.
However, according to Baseball Savant, loanDepot Park, the Marlins’ home, is not an easy one in which to go on the offensive. With the average set at 100 for each metric, their run factor is below-average at 94, ranking it 23rd overall. Their home-run factor is even lower, at 85. By comparison, Citizens Bank Park is the seventh easiest ballpark in which to score runs, with a 106 run factor and 115 HR factor.
It doesn’t justify their meager hitting in their own ballpark in Philadelphia, but at least in the case of Miami games, it means they’re not the only struggling visitors. Thankfully, they’re off to Colorado next, to the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the game.