It was a monster agreement, and it took Harper out of Washington after Bryce spent the first seven years of his career in the nation’s capital.
Harper is a polarizing player for many, and is often involved in debates about whether he is overrated.
The question we’re looking to answer is: Has Harper been worth the money?
His Numbers With The Phillies
In Harper’s first year with the Phillies, he put together a pretty average season by his standards.
Harper batted .260 with an .882 OPS and a 4.5 WAR.
He left the yard 35 times and added 36 doubles.
The Phillies finished the year 81-81, a mediocre mark for a team that was expected to contend.
In the shortened 2020 season, Harper had a substantially better year.
He slashed .268/.420/.542 and posted a 2.0 WAR, a pace that would have leveled out to a 5.4 WAR over a full 162.
The Phillies again underachieved despite a talented roster, though, finishing 28-32.
Bryce’s 2021 season so far has the makings to end up being a memorable one.
Through 33 games, Harper is batting .307, getting on base at a .436 clip, and slugging .561.
If those numbers hold, this would become a top-three career season for Harper in all of those categories.
Harper does only have 15 extra-base-hits thus far, but it’s hard to complain when he’s getting on base 43.6 percent of the time.
#Phillies Bryce Harper is batting .280/.406/.556 with 40 home runs over his last 162 games. He is at .291/.416/.584 over his last 128 games played – now I am not mathematician, but I believe that is an OPS of one.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) May 15, 2021
Most importantly, the Phillies are 21-20, firmly in the mix in the National League East.
They entered Tuesday just one game back of the first-place New York Mets.
Worth The Investment?
So far, the short answer is no, not yet, but the long answer is that it’s too soon to say.
Whenever you make an investment that large in a player, your lone goal is to win a championship.
Needless to say, the Phillies haven’t done that yet with Harper.
Harper’s prime will end long before his 13-year deal does, but the Phillies’ window to win is still open right now, and will be for several more years.
The fact that the team underachieved over Harper’s first two seasons with the club is disheartening, because it’s a waste of two of his prime years.
If the Phillies are serious about contending this season, they will need to be buyers at the trade deadline.
The Phillies playoff odds have nearly doubled since FanGraphs first released the odds ahead of the season. The Braves odds have dropped by more than 50%. pic.twitter.com/0wymXlIO5C
— Leo Morgenstern (@morgensternmlb) May 18, 2021
As far as evaluating Harper’s performance individually goes, the Phillies are getting what they signed up for.
Harper had two phenomenal seasons with the Nationals in 2015 and 2017.
2015 was his MVP season when he led the league in on-base (.460), slugging (.649) and OPS (1.109).
He also posted a 9.7 WAR that year.
His other standout season came in 2017, which was his only other year that Harper managed an OPS over 1.000.
Those two seasons aside, Harper has pretty consistently been an .850-.900 OPS player who might not always hit for average, but will get on base and hit home runs pretty frequently.
That’s exactly what the Phillies have gotten so far.
That being said, Harper has a chance to make this 2021 season comparable to his 2015 and 2017 campaigns.
If he does so and the Phillies remain competitive for a postseason spot, Harper will likely find himself in the MVP discussion.
But more importantly, the Phillies would find themselves in a situation where they’d have a chance to win a title and make this deal indisputably worth it.