Bryce Harper has now completed three of his contracted 13 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, and while the 2021 season may have been a disappointment for the team, Harper could not have wished for a stronger year.
When it comes to offense, Harper dominated in every single category. In 141 games this season, Harper batted .309 while leading the league with a .615 slugging percentage, 1.044 OPS, 179 OPS+, and his 42 doubles. On top of his 35 blasts this year, Harper’s 18.1% barrel percentage was good for the top 3% of the league and his 92.5 mph average exit velocity was in the top 8% of the league.
On the defensive side of things, Harper’s .996 fielding percentage was well above the .986 league average among outfielders, as he made just one error all season on 225 defensive chances.
Harper got off to a hot start in 2021 batting .321 with six homers in April. However, after a series of injuries that ranged from getting hit in the face by a fastball, to a forearm injury, to a back injury, Harper struggled through May and missed some time. He was out for 40 games prior to the All-Star break, which likely played a part in him missing out on the honor.
After the All-Star break, Harper took an already solid season and elevated his game to the next level. He played in 73 of the team's 74 games after the break and slashed an incredible .338/..476/.713 with a 1.188 OPS over that span.
One of the more impressive things about Harper is his ability to hit to all fields. A lot of lefties with power in today’s game tend to pull the ball to the right side of the field, but not Harper. Bryce certainly has more power to the right, but he is capable of taking an outside pitch with movement into the left field stands as shown below with his 35th and final home run of the season:
As the Phillies season was coming to a close, Harper did absolutely everything he could to keep the team in playoff contention. He hit eight home runs in the month of September and batted .303, but he is still looking to break the Phillies playoff drought and get a chance to play in the postseason wearing the red pinstripes.
Harper is the focal point of the Phillies offense, and a solid defensive presence as well. He managed to have such a strong season that he was named a finalist for the NL MVP, an award he has already won once (2015 with the Washington Nationals). Regardless of those results, Harper is by far the MVP of the Philadelphia Phillies, and in many ways, exceeded the expectations of so many this season.
He'll be back in a Phillies jersey next season. Get excited, there's more where that came from.
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