By Sam Bush
When Bryce Harper signed his 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies last March, he said he was fully prepared for the Philly experience.
He sure got it.
Just one month in, Harper was booed by fans at Citizens Bank Park after a strikeout in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Harper shrugged off the boos post-game but it certainly wasn’t the last time he heard them from fans in South Philly.
Harper’s 2019 season was pretty good. Thirty-five home runs, a career-best 114 RBI and an OPS of .882 is pretty much market value for what the Phillies are paying. But Harper had his downsides, too, as he had a career-high 178 strikeouts and walked 31 fewer times than the season before. He also failed to make the All-Star Team for the first time in four seasons and looked shaky at times in right field. Still, it’s hard to call Harper’s 2019 stats disappointing.
After going from 66 wins in 2017 to 80 in 2018, Harper’s arrival was supposed to be the push over the top toward playoff baseball, which the city hasn’t seen since 2011. But the Phillies won just one more game last season and didn’t come all that close to October.