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Bryce Harper to Phillies - Fantasy Impact


Folks...it's about damn time. I've been waiting for almost four agonizing months to write these words: Bryce Harper is a Philadelphia Phillie.

When it becomes official, his 13-year, $330 million deal will be the largest in MLB history. The signing puts an exclamation point on a busy winter for the Phillies, who also signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson traded for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto. Adding five All-Stars and two former MVPs in a single offseason is impressive, and it vaults Philadelphia into true contender status after years in the wilderness. Was it worth the wait? HAHAHAHA god no, search my recent tweets on Harper and the rapid degradation of my mental state is plainly obvious. But our long national nightmare is finally over.

For more on my personal reaction to this development, please refer to this video. For analysis of the impact on Harper's fantasy outlook, you may continue reading below.

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Bryce Is Nice

Harper has never again attained the dizzying heights he reached in his 2015 MVP season, but given the historic nature of that campaign, that's to be expected. What he has done is remain exceptionally valuable to fantasy owners. In the intervening three seasons, Harper has produced a .267/.391/.505 line and averaged 29 home runs, 94 runs, 91 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. If he hadn't missed nearly a third of the 2017 season with a bone bruise in his knee, those numbers would be even better. It's no surprise that he has been a fixture in the early rounds of fantasy drafts as a result.

While he owns a career .279 batting average, one of the few knocks on Harper is that his average has fluctuated wildly over the last four seasons; after hitting .330 in 2015, he dipped to .243 the following year, rebounded to .319 in 2017, and dropped back to .249 last year. Given his high walk rate and spray charts, he's more vulnerable to BABIP issues than most hitters. Still, given the rarity of .300 hitters in this day and age (especially those who fill up the stat sheet in the other categories), that ceiling is worth a bet.

Harper didn't show much of a home/road split during the first seven seasons of his career, which makes sense given that Nationals Park has generally played neutral since its opening. Considering how Citizens Bank Park is routinely among the friendliest parks for homers in MLB (particularly for lefty bats), one could reasonably surmise that Harper may get a boost there. As for lineup quality, the Nationals scored nearly 100 more runs than the Phillies did a year ago, but Philadelphia also significantly upgraded their lineup at multiple positions even before bringing Harper into the fold. One potential lineup is as follows:

LF Andrew McCutchen
SS Jean Segura
RF Bryce Harper
1B Rhys Hoskins
C J.T. Realmuto
CF Odubel Herrera
3B Maikel Franco
2B Cesar Hernandez

The only hitter in that group who was below-average last season by wRC+ was Herrera, and only because he cratered in the second half - he was pacing toward his fourth straight above-average season prior to that. Hernandez also struggled down the stretch due to a foot injury and looked like he was taking a step forward before that occurred. Franco continues to possess a rare blend of power and contact ability and is still just 26 years old. The first five hitters in the order proffered above require no caveats, though it's worth pointing out that Cutch's production last season was suppressed by playing nearly half his games in AT&T Park. Any way you slice it, this is a quality lineup, in which Harper will occupy prime real estate.

 

ADP Lowdown

Harper's ADP isn't likely to change much in the aftermath of this long-awaited news. He is, per NFBC, the 19th player off the board in drafts. That may nudge upward slightly now that he finally has a team (and it isn't the Giants), but there isn't really much room to move up the board.

Harper has the ceiling of a generational player and the floor of a four-category stud. As ever, draft with confidence. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to drink heavily in celebration/relief.

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Analysis