New kid on the block Bryce Harper gets respect in MLB Network's first base rankings

The Phillies' new full-time first baseman makes his debut on MLB Network's Top 10 first base rankings ahead of a former MVP, Gold Glovers, and perennial All-Stars.
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper ranks No. 2 on MLB Network's Top 10 list after playing only 36 games at first base.
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper ranks No. 2 on MLB Network's Top 10 list after playing only 36 games at first base. / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Throughout January, MLB Network has been releasing their annual Top 10 lists for the 2024 season. In their recently released list of first basemen, MLB network has definitely riled up some fans with their new power rankings.

Bryce Harper joins his teammates J.T. Realmuto, Trea Turner, and Zack Wheeler as the fourth Phillie to crack the Top 10 at their position, ranking as the second-best first baseman in all of baseball after participating in just 36 games at the position in 2023.

In 2023, the two-time MVP returned to the Phillies after Tommy John surgery set him back to the beginning of May. After he returned, Harper started right where he left off in 2022, finishing May with a .315 batting average and an OPS close to .900. While his power wasn't there, it was obvious he was getting back into the swing of things.

It wasn't until July 21 that the 31-year-old returned to the field, making his first career start at first base. During his first game in the field, Harper gave some reassurance to the organization and the fans that this experiment would work.

Harper ended the year slashing .293/.391/.521 with a 146 OPS+. His power started to return toward the end of the season and into the postseason, as he hit 21 homers plus five more in the postseason, leading the Phillies to the NLCS for the second year in a row.

Most people were surprised at how well he fielded the position, playing in the infield for the first time since his catching days before his professional career. In his 303 innings at first, Harper committed only one error and ended with three outs above average (OAA), according to Baseball Savant, which would have put him in about the 60th percentile of all first basemen if he had played enough to qualify.

The ranking comes with some controversy as in his little time at the position; Harper was still ranked above some great players, including last season's home run and RBI leader Matt Olson, as well as former MVP Paul Goldschmidt and 2021 sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr. While all of these players have had incredible years at the position, Harper's hitting track record and athletic profile give him the edge among his competitors.

The seven-time All-Star has shown a professional approach at the plate that screams consistency and success. His hard work and athletic ability profile well at first base, so there is no expectation of regression going into his first full season at the position. And, of course, when the lights are the brightest, there is no one you'd rather have at the plate.

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