Harper aims to make the Phillies the beasts of the NL East

Big, bad lefty bat

Bryce Harper

The Philadelphia Phillies may have spent what owner John Middleton called “stupid money” to bring Bryce Harper to Citizens Bank Park, but their fans are undoubtedly looking at it as a smart move.

Indeed, in signing the former Washington Nationals slugging prodigy to a 13-year, $330 million contract in late February, the Phils put a cherry on top of a productive offseason that saw them also add All-Stars in catcher J.T. Realmuto, shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Now there are big expectations in the City of Brotherly Love and most of that will be focused on Harper.

And with good reason. Since arriving in the majors in 2012, Harper has put up stats that rank with the game’s best: a .279 average,184 home runs, 521 RBIs, a .900 OPS and a .388 on-base percentage. He’s also a six-time All-Star who was the National League’s MVP in 2015, a year in which he hit .330 with 42 homers, 99 RBIs, 124 walks, a .460 OBP and a 1.109 OPS. Scary stats, indeed.

But away from the numbers, he’s the type of lefthanded bat whose mere presence changes games, either with a long ball or by intimidating opposing pitchers into pitching around him and thus giving his teammates better pitches to hit. And in a power-laden Phils lineup that includes Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez and the new acquisitions, that could mean balls flying out of their bandbox of a ballpark at a prodigious rate.

Fans can get their first look at Harper in a Phillies uniform when they host the Atlanta Braves Sunday, March 31, on ESPN.

Bryce Harper

Full name: Bryce Aron Max Harper

Birth date: Oct. 16, 1992

Birthplace: Las Vegas

Height/weight: 6 feet, 3 inches/220 pounds

Teams: Washington Nationals (2012-18); Philadelphia Phillies (2019-present)

Position: right fielder

Bats/throws: left/right

No.: 3

Honors and achievements: Six-time All-Star; 2012 Rookie of the Year; 2015 National League MVP; Silver Slugger Award (2015); NL home run leader (2015); Home Run Derby winner (2018)

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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