Bryce Harper gets glowing review of his switch to first base

The new Phillies first baseman has passed his test with flying colors, according to MLB.com.
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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This past week was an interesting study of the Philadelphia Phillies' recent past colliding with the present, as former first baseman and Phillies hero Rhys Hoskins returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time as a Milwaukee Brewer.

While it was hard to see Hoskins lacing them up on the opposite side of the diamond, Phillies fans reminded the sports world why they are the best in baseball by showing appreciation for a slugger who will be remembered forever around these parts for the greatest bat spike in team history.

While the three-game nostalgia trip brought some much-needed emotional closure to the Hoskins story in Philadelphia, we were also reminded of the out-of-left-field circumstance that led to Hoskins' departure in free agency. It seems like just yesterday, but Bryce Harper was shifted to first base in the middle of last season with Hoskins on the IL with a torn ACL.

Fast-forward nearly one year, and the reigning NL Player of the Month has quickly proven that he is one of the best first basemen in MLB. Sure, there were a few growing pains early on, but Harper has mostly taken to the position with the type of ease and confidence that should help remind folks of why he is considered a bona fide superstar.

Bryce Harper gets glowing review of his switch to first base

Try telling Harper he can't do something on a baseball field, I dare you. Consider the fact that Harper was drafted as a catcher out of high school (he received his GED during his junior year so he could be drafted earlier) and was converted to a full-time outfielder when he was drafted by the Washington Nationals with the first overall pick in the June 2010 MLB Draft. His natural athleticism and ability to adjust have always carried him well since he entered the ranks of professional baseball.

In a recent article by MLB.com's Mike Petriello, Harper was ranked the highest of all MLB players who switched to new positions full-time in 2024, beating out fellow superstars Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge. But why does Petriello think Harper deserves the ranking of "fantastic" for his position change?

"To fill in on short notice is one thing," writes Petriello. "To permanently move to the position and study for it all winter is another. So how’s that going? Harper’s +4 Outs Above Average rank as second-best among first basemen, behind perennial fielding standout Christian Walker. In fact, between his regularly strong hitting, his defensive value, and some down years from other stars, it’s not a reach to say: Harper is now the best all-around first baseman in the game (or at least that’s what WAR says)."

If that wasn't enough of a ringing endorsement, Petriello offered up another measure backed by analytics that helps support Harper's case for being an elite MLB first baseman.

"So what, exactly, has he done well?" asks Petriello. "Avoiding mistakes, for one; he’s missed just four opportunities that Statcast graded as being 90% likely or higher, and even one of those was when he slipped on a wet field in April."

There's a lot of season left, but could Bryce Harper be looking at his first Gold Glove Award as a first baseman? Early returns say yes for the player people in Philadelphia call "MV3."

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