Bryce Harper nearing a return?
By Nick Galaida
According to the Philadelphia Phillies' broadcast and a report by ESPN, Bryce Harper took batting practice on the field before Tuesday's contest against the New York Yankees.
Harper's return to on-field batting practice is a significant step towards getting back in the Philadelphia lineup, though there are still milestones in his rehab for him to check off. According to a quote from manager Rob Thomson, "It's not hitting...it's sliding," that is the more difficult part of Harper's return to play protocol.
Notably, Harper is on the Phillies' 10-day injured list due to the possibility that he returns before the end of May, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Considering that Harper is already on the field taking batting practice, it does not appear unreasonable to think that he could be back even sooner.
The Harper Effect
Since joining the Phillies to begin the 2019 campaign, Harper has hit 101 home runs in 455 games played. During that stretch, he has been 45% more productive than the league average hitter, measured by wRC+.
Prior to landing on the injured list during the middle of the summer in 2022, Harper had 15 home runs and a .318 batting average across his first 275 plate appearances. In that time period, the Phillies ranked 10th in OPS, seventh in ISO, 11th in walk rate, and 15th in strikeout percentage as a team. A potential earlier-than-expected return to this lineup in 2023 would go a long way towards improving an offensive attack that ranks 16th in OPS, 13th in ISO, 28th in walk rate, and 25th in strikeout percentage to begin the new season.
Up Next for the Phillies
On Friday, Philadelphia will host the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. First pitch is at 3:05 p.m. EST. Zack Wheeler will get the ball for the Phillies, and will be opposed by Hunter Greene.