Is this the worst Bryce Harper take of all time?

Is Harper's recent demeanor anything to worry about, or does he just hold himself to a high standard?
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies have a 42-19 record after their Monday win over the Milwaukee Brewers. There have been far more positives than negatives for the ball club, hence their outstanding record through more than a quarter of a season.

However, one perplexing topic that has come to light is the apparent frustration of first baseman Bryce Harper. He has recently demonstrated anger in the dugout following his at-bats and not hustled to first base after hitting ground balls that are in play. Is there one or more unknown reasons for this behavior?

Is this the worst Bryce Harper take of all time?

During the Phillies' May 29 game against the San Francisco Giants, starting pitcher Kyle Harrison threw two pitches up and in at Harper. The Phillies superstar took exception to the location of the pitches and both team benches and dugouts emptied to prevent the altercation from further escalating.

Harper’s emotions were a topic of discussion the following day during radio programs on SportsRadio 94 WIP. The Midday Show with Hugh Douglas and Joe Giglio opened their show by talking about the first baseman’s recent displays of irritation.

Giglio expressed concern about Harper’s frequent temper tantrums on the Phillies’ road trip versus the Colorado Rockies and Giants. To his point, the season could not be turning out any better for Philadelphia so far. So, why has the first baseman been frequently irritated?

Is Harper being hampered by an ongoing back injury

Giglio brought up the possibility that Harper could be dealing with a lingering back issue that limited him in spring training not long before the start of the regular season. It's possible that he has been bothered by a recent knee tweak he suffered against the Giants, as manager Rob Thomson recently mentioned.

Suffering multiple ailments could be an understandable cause of frustration for Harper. He has dealt with his share of injuries since joining the Phillies five years ago. The former NL MVP underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason of 2022 for a torn UCL. He had been limited to a DH role and missed the start of 2023.

Giglio mentioned Morning Show co-host Joe DeCamara’s theory that Harper may be expressing his anger over not getting another contract extension he has wanted.

Being upset over a contract situation is a common reason for any athlete’s change in behavior. It would be understandable if this was gnawing at the first baseman. However, he seems to have exhibited patience with the negotiating process between his agent, Scott Boras, and the Phillies front office.

Harper doesn't give the impression that this would bother him during the season. He gives off the impression that he can compartmentalize, given his highly competitive nature. But, he is an athlete just like any other and wants what he thinks he deserves financially.

Is his recent show of frustration simply much ado about nothing? Harper has such a high competitive streak that he seems to demand perfection from himself every play of every game. While that is understandable and admirable, it can be a recipe for burnout or work against him in some fashion.

It is curious as to why Harper may be unhappy at a time when neither he nor the Phillies are struggling. Now that this has been more noticeable following their road trip out West, the fan base will see if this continues or if an explanation is revealed for his recent display of emotions.