By Dylan MacKinnon
Six straight wins, and a 442 ft two run blast later, and the Phillies find themselves in first place. And arguably no one deserves more credit than the man who hit that HR, Bryce Harper. Harper clobbered a Edwin Diaz pitch into the ivy wall in center, that turned a one run lead, into a 3 run lead in the bottom of the 8th. Those insurance runs ended up being a big deal, because the Mets would get one back in the top of the 9th. But the Phillies held on, and thanks To Harper, hold a .5 game lead over the Mets for first place.
Harper’s big night continues a hot streak he has been on for a while now. In July he had a slash line of .333/.452/.571/1.023. Those are all elite numbers. He had 11 doubles, to go with 3 homeruns. All this season people have asked “Is Bryce Harper overpaid?” Last night he gave an answer. No.
For one, Harper isn’t paid as well as you think. Everyone looks at the total number of $330 million being the “biggest number in Baseball history,” but ignore that in terms of a per year salary, it is not even top 10. He makes $27.5 million per year. Which yes, is a lot of money, but is actually only the 18th highest number this year. There are several free agents this winter that may get more than that, so by next season he may not even be top 20. The question is not if he is worth “The biggest contract ever.” The question is, “is Harper a top 20 player?”
So let’s see how he is performing this year. He has the second highest On Base Percentage. The 5th highest On Base plus Slugging. He is 10th in Offensive WAR. He is one of 24 players with double digit steals and homeruns. And while his home run numbers are a little down, that is partly because he misses time after getting hit in the face and wrist with a fastball. It also took him a while to get right after that. But he has 12 HRS since the beginning of June, which would stretch out to 36 homeruns in a season, which is right in line with his normal numbers.
Oh and there is only one player in the NL with a slash line over .300/.400/.500. Bryce Harper. And the only player in the AL with those numbers is Vlad Guerrero Jr.
All those numbers speak to a player who is definitely at least top 20. Is he on the level of a Fernando Tatis Jr, Mike Trout, etc.? No. But he isn’t paid like the best player in the MLB, he is paid like a All Star. And yea, he was not an All Star this year, but that is again because he struggled in May because of his injury issues. In April, June, and July, he played like an elite player. And in August, he already has 3HRs, 5 doubles, and a slash line of .417/.500/1.000/1.500. He could be in line for a monster close to the year.
It is time for the people who were over reacting to a bad May to admit they were wrong when saying Harper was overpaid. Harper has been everything Phillies fans were promised. He is perhaps over performing his yearly salary this year. If he keeps this level of play up, could even be in the MVP discussion. And if you think that’s an over reaction, Harper’s odds to win NL MVP jumped to +800 last night. Those are the 4th best odds in the NL. Tatis Jr. is still way ahead, but Harper can be in the conversation.