“I’d do the same thing,” Bryce Harper said after Phils fans booed him the other night. “It’s not fun to lose, it’s not fun to watch when you’re playing that way. [I was] 0-for-4 with two punchies, I’m probably thinking the same thing walking back to the dugout.”
By Sam Bush
The punchies have been a problem all season for Harper.
He has now struck out an alarming 38 times in 127 plate appearances. MLB.com notes that Harper’s whiff rate is 37.4 this season, up from a previous high of 31.6 since Statcast started tracking the stat in 2015.
“I feel fine,” Harper said. “Just keep missing pitches. That’s about it. Swing feels good, hands feel good. Just swinging at pitches out of the zone. Pretty much the same thing. Just trying to swing at a pitch over the plate and not miss it. If I can cut down on swinging on pitches out of the zone, get on base for the guys behind me, then I’ll be successful.”
It adds up to a .231 batting average for Harper, a grisly number even as it is accompanied by a .388 OBP, six home runs and 20 RBIs. Harper also contributed to a fielding mistake — a ball landing between him and second baseman César Hernández — that opened the door for the Tigers’ three-run third inning.
The 17-13 Phillies, however, have been on top of the NL East for most of the first month of the season. Though it appears fans’ patience is running thin.
“My work’s the same every day. I feel good in the cage, feel good going about it each day,” Harper said when asked if he was pressing. “But like I said, can’t miss pitches over the plate. I’m getting some pitches to hit over the plate. Got to be better.”