The 2019 Opening Series couldn’t have started much better than it did for Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies. It began by kicking off the campaign with a sweep of the defending NL East champions as well as Harper becoming an instant fan favorite in Philadelphia.
After being held hitless on Opening Day, the Phillies superstar rebounded in the next two games of the series, going 3 for 6 and hitting two mammoth home runs that sent the city of Philadelphia into an uproar.
Bryce is on the board! pic.twitter.com/Lme77DJjH9
— MLB (@MLB) March 30, 2019
Bryce Harper’s Strong Start
Impact on Lineup
Adding a player of Harper’s caliber into a lineup that consists of other stars like Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto makes the Phillies one of the scariest and deepest lineups for opposing pitchers in the National League. “The guys we do have in this lineup, it’s pretty unbelievable,” Harper said. “One through nine…”
Most importantly, adding the power threat of Harper makes it impractical for opposing pitchers to pitch around the other stars in the Phillies lineup. Therefore, it gives players like Hoskins and Realmuto plenty of opportunities to hit with runners on. If they can take advantage as Hoskins did on Opening Day, this Phillies lineup will thrive.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 28, 2019
One of the most eye-catching occurrences of the opening series in Philadelphia is that Harper appears to be having fun. Harper is going from the political culture of Washington to the sports-crazy culture of Philadelphia. He seems to be totally engaged in the Philadelphia environment as well as building a connection with the fan base. Of course, this will be important for Bryce after signing a 13-year, $330 million contract, which will put an immense amount of pressure on him from an unforgiving fan base.
— MLB (@MLB) March 28, 2019
“They are such good fans, they understand the game.” Harper said.“They understand sports and their city and things like that.”
Whether it was the “M-V-P!” chants, the curtain call after his first homer, or the ostentatious Phillie Phanatic cleats, Harper was an immediate hit in Philadelphia.
Time Will Tell
Everything so far seems to be going nearly perfectly for the Phillies in the early season. However, the biggest question that has yet to be answered is how the fan base of Philadelphia will react to Harper when he hits a slump. Bryce has had a tremendous series to start off 2019, but can this continue? He is historically known as one of the best hitters of all time in March and April. As a matter of fact, he ranks fourth in MLB history in March/April with an OPS of 1.065, trailing only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds. The former number one pick will look to avoid his annual slide from May until August and attempt to keep fans happy.
Everything might be alright in Philly at the moment, but a dip in performance is inevitable for Harper at some point. When it happens, will the city of Philadelphia show Harper brotherly love?
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