Bryce Harper Philadelphia Phillies

Age: 27 (October 16, 1992) | 6' 3" | 220lbs. | Bats: Left OF-152 RF-152 DH-2 PH-4
Tm Lg YEAR G AB R H BB SO 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BA OBP SLG BB% SO% BABIP G/L/F % $4x4 $5x5
WAS A 2011 72 258 49 82 44 61 17 1 14 46 19 5 .318 .417 .554 15 20 .372 n/a
WAS AA 2011 0 129 14 33 15 26 7 1 3 12 7 2 .256 .329 .395 10 18 .294 n/a
WAS AFL 2011 25 93 17 31 11 22 6 2 6 26 4 1 .333 .404 .634 11 21 .385 n/a
WAS AAA 2012 21 74 8 18 9 14 4 1 1 3 1 1 .243 .325 .365 11 17 .288 n/a
WAS NL 2012 139 533 98 144 56 120 26 9 22 59 18 6 .270 .340 .477 9 20 .310 45/23/33 24 23
WAS A+ 2013 2 4 2 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 .500 .600 1.50 20 20 .500 n/a
WAS AA 2013 2 7 3 2 2 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 .286 .444 .571 22 33 .500 n/a
WAS NL 2013 118 424 71 116 61 94 24 3 20 58 11 4 .274 .368 .486 12 19 .306 47/20/33 23 21
WAS A+ 2014 2 4 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 .750 .833 1.50 33 0 .667 n/a
WAS AA 2014 3 10 4 6 3 1 1 0 3 7 2 2 .600 .692 1.60 23 8 .500 n/a
WAS NL 2014 100 352 41 96 38 104 10 2 13 32 2 2 .273 .344 .423 10 27 .352 44/22/35 13 12
WAS NL 2015 153 521 118 172 124 131 38 1 42 99 6 4 .330 .460 .649 19 20 .369 39/22/39 43 42
WAS NL 2016 147 506 84 123 108 117 24 2 24 86 21 10 .243 .373 .441 17 19 .264 40/17/42 25 23
WAS NL 2017 111 420 95 134 68 99 27 1 29 87 4 2 .319 .413 .595 14 20 .356 40/22/38 28 28
WAS NL 2018 159 550 103 137 130 169 34 0 34 100 13 3 .249 .393 .496 19 24 .289 40/22/38 29 28
PHI NL 2019 157 573 98 149 99 178 36 1 35 114 15 3 .260 .372 .510 15 26 .313 38/24/38 30 28
Career 8yrs 1084 3879 708 1071 684 1012 219 19 219 635 90 34 .276 .385 .512 15 22 .317 n/a
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I wouldn't be surprised if Harper has the wildest year to year fluctuations in BABIP of the players that have been mentioned. 

.369

-.105

+.092

-.067

Only once has his season BABIP been within 33 points of his current career one. 

van wilhoite LVW
Dec 25 '18

But, let's not look at random endpoints.  If you limit it to hitters with similar OPS, to guys who blow him away (so 134-144 - meaning Harper's right in the middle), yes, he's 3rd to ARod and Cepeda, but ARod is far outclassing everyone else at 45.6 through age 25 season.

The guys close to Harper are:

Cepeda 28.5

Harper 27.4

Hanley Ramirez 26.6

David Wright 26.3

Miguel Cabrera 25.9

Mookie Betts 24.9

Sam Crawford 24.5

And, let's do the same by WAR, not oWAR

ARod still far outclassing every else at 46.4.

But, with defense included things change a lot:

Mookie Betts 34.2

Harper 27.4

Evan Longoria 27.2

David Wright 26.2

Orlando Cepeda 25.8

Sam Crawford 23.3

And, what if we look at just WAR for players his age.  Totally different world when you don't consider OPS+ as the major component.  He's 41st.  There are the inner circle guys ahead of him like Cobb, Trout, Mantle, Hornsby, ARod, Foxx, Ott, Griffey Jr. Arky Vaughn, Eddie Mathews, Speaker, Aaron, Pujols, but they are all between 10 and 30 WAR more than Harper.

But, there's also Andruw Jones (who will likely fall off the HOF ballot this year who is equal to Pujols through age 25). Then a few more inner circle guys- Frank Robinson, Eddie Collins, Kaline, Bench.

And, on to Mookie Betts, Cesar Cedeno, Vada Pinson, Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey, Ted Williams, Sherry Magee, Manny Machado, Joe DiMaggio, Barry Bonds, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Jason Heyward, Jim Fregosi, Dick Allen, George Brett, Travis Jackson, Joe Kelly, and finally Bryce Harper.

Heyward starts the players who are within 2.5 WAR of Harper on the upside.  This within 2.5 of Harper on the downside are:

Evan Longoria, George Davis, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Willie Randolph, Ron Santo, John McGraw, Robin Yount, Jimmy Sheckard, Tim Raines, David Wright, Joe Torre, Orlando Cepeda, Joe Cronin, Grady Sizemore, Sam Crawford, and Giancarlo Stanton.

For me, generational talents are guys who are the best player of their generation or within the discussion.  I guess if you eliminate Trout from the discussion because the sun makes it impossible to see other stars, Harper enters the discussion.  But, he's in with Betts, Machado, and Stanton among those with youth still on their side.  This doesn't consider players who are his equal or superior to him who played during the same time period who don't fit into this convenient under 25 success cutoff.

Eugene Freedman EugeneFreed
Dec 25 '18

Mike's last two sentences go to the heart of the matter.

Merry Christmas, everyone, though baseball is far from merry right now.

Alex Patton Alex
Dec 25 '18

Harper isn't generational if you're comparing him to a very small handful of hitters. It's not so much that "Mike Trout is generational and Bryce Harper isn't" but rather Mike Trout is a once or twice or thrice in a lifetime player. Harper is still special/generational.

Harper's 12th in oWAR among hitters with a 135 OPS+ or higher through his Age 25 season. The players ahead of him are Trout, Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Matthews, Ken Griffey Jr., Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, Frank Robinson, Dick Allen, Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays. All these hitters (with the exception of Cepeda) were better than Harper has been thus far, but jeez, you're talking about 10 of the greatest hitters ever. Sure, Bryce Harper isn't better than those guys, which means absolutely nothing. There isn't going to be an entering-his-prime hitter on the market like Harper for at least six years, assuming Acuna, Vlad, or Soto live up to that and/or aren't locked up to an extension before then.

I do agree that signing Harper - or any hitter for that matter - for 10 years is loaded with risk and uncertainty. I do think he and Machado should get record setting contracts and it shouldn't be particularly close. The solution with Harper is to sign him to something like a $320M, 8 year deal and stick vesting options on there for the last two seasons if you're worried he's going to break down in his Age 34 and 35 seasons.

Most importantly, relative to revenue, Harper and Machado aren't going to set any kind of record for largest contract. They've not even going to come close. 


Mike Gianella MikeG
Dec 25 '18

I also like Eugene's analysis.  But I do think Harper's contract will break the Stanton record slightly.  Say $330 million or so.  Why? Boras' ego.  But it will also have multiple opt-outs that will make it unlikely to play out. 

Suspect we will see Machado sign with the Yankees/Phils/Chisox in a couple of weeks at around $300 million/10.  Then Boras will go to teams and ask for best and final bids on Harper.  If those bids don't top Stanton's overall value, Boras will go back to Nats' ownership and telll them they can outbid themselves from $300 to $330 but defer a lot of money a la Scherzer to keep the real cost around $300.

Whether Boras succeeds in Harper's Bazaar or not he will make it look like he did.

Bob Elam Bob-in-TX
Dec 23 '18

I think that's a dead on analysis, Eugene, and I had no idea the stats were so comparable. I should have.

But I have the feeling that in the new baseball, neither is going to get the knockout deal they're looking for. Between Machado's PR blunders recently and Harper's ongoing fragility/missingness, these guys aren't blue chippers. 

They're darned good, so they'll get paid, but my bet is that despite relative youth they'll stall far short of record territory. It sure feels like teams are starting to realize that these guys would pay us to play. Especially if we gave them some of the money back if they did good.

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
Dec 23 '18

Great post.

Alex Patton Alex
Dec 22 '18

I know he's considered a once in a generation talent, but that is more based upon pre-major league scouting and hype and one season in which he won the MVP.

He and Manny Machado are the same age and have essentially the same amount of service time.  Both have had some injuries.

Machado has 926 games and 4074 Plate Appearances.  Harpers has 927 games and 3957 plate appearances.

Let's examine the rest.  Traditional stat line and slash for each:

Harper 610 184 521 75 279/388/512

Machado 522 175 513 53 282/335/487

Less traditional

Harper 139 OPS+ 27.4 bWAR 27.4 oWAR 140 wRC+ 30.7 fWAR

Machado 121 OPS+ 33.8 bWAR 25.7 oWAR 120 wRC+ 30.2fWAR

Without a doubt Harper is the better hitter.  It's mostly due to his plate discipline, but there are other advantages as well.  Machado's defense makes up the difference and according to bWAR even makes him more valuable.  

One other thing to consider.  According to fWAR Manny has had 4 seasons of 5.0 or more WAR.  Harper has had only 1 - his outsized MVP year - but he has 4 of 4.1 or better.  Manny has a lower upside peak, but is more consistently valuable.

The media seems to talk about Harper as if he's Mike Trout's equal.  That's far from true. Trout is in a completely different class.  Harper's one year peak put him in Trout's class.  But, in reality, the two free agents this season are equivalent.  It will be interesting to see how their contracts play out in this new era where defense is valued and traditional stats and the eye test aren't as important.

Eugene Freedman EugeneFreed
Dec 22 '18

Hitter No. 23 in $5x5 (both leagues).

2018 Statcast averages

HIP: 

Avg Exit Velocity: 

Avg HR Distance: 

Avg Launch Angle: 

For some reason, no Statcast stats in November at MLB.

Was batting .214 at the All-Star break. And, of course, was on the team. They don't call it The Show for nothing.

Alex Patton Alex
Dec 16 '18
Fangraphs:   WAR 3.5   Bat 30   Field -14    Run 0   HR/FB 23%   Pull 42%   Hard 42%
Alex Patton Alex
Dec 16 '18