One of the sad truths of the 2021 Phillies season is that Bryce Harper’s amazing campaign just sort of fell by the wayside. It was wasted with a squad that finished second place in Major League Baseball’s worst division. An individual season that wasn’t enough to get this franchise over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
It’s a shame, because Harper raked in ’21. He raked to the tune of 35 home runs, 40 doubles, 100 runs, and 100 walks, becoming just the fourth outfielder to ever put up those numbers. The others are Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Stan Musial.
You could argue that some of these statistic types are useless, like when Sixers fans point out that some guy is the first to play three-straight road games with 1.3 deflections, 0.8 steals, and some other arbitrary nonsense, but this Harper statistic is legitimately amazing, and puts him on a Mount Rushmore with three other legends of the game.
Harper slashed .309/.429/.615 this year, which is incredible. He led Major League Baseball with a 1.044 OPS, beating out Vlad Jr., Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Shohei Ohtani. His .309 average was sixth in the league and nobody ripped more doubles than he did. He probably did enough to win NL MVP, which would be a nice individual honor to salvage a crap team season otherwise.
Said Bryce after things wrapped up on Sunday:
Bryce Harper says he wants to stick it out here and win in Philly
“We need dawgs man. I tell you what. We need some dawgs”
“Thats from within. We can’t just keep pulling guys and spending all this money in free agency. We have to have a mold of a team” pic.twitter.com/Eqi1iOmhGf
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 3, 2021
He’s not wrong, though it’s somewhat ironic for a guy who earned a bajillion dollars in free agency talking about spending money in free agency. Bryce is essentially saying that Didi Gregorius (and similar contracts) ain’t it.
Problem is, there are no young dawgs out there. The Phillies farm system is bereft of talent. They gave four other dudes a chance to win the center field job this season, and it wound up going back to Odubel Herrera. Spencer Howard turned out not to be the guy. Mick Abel is 20 years old. Maybe Rafael Marchan or Mickey Moniak take the next step, but you wouldn’t hold your breath.
It’s a tight situation. Everybody knows what the Phillies need, but they don’t have it and can’t magically generate it in one offseason. Short of John Middleton going on a ridiculous spending spree, Dave Dombrowski is going to have to find value in the margins and/or scour the bargain bin again, which ain’t easy. Hopefully this team can turn a corner somehow, lest we waste another year of prime Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler.