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#pounditThursday, December 8, 2022

Phillies exec has bold comment about Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper in a headband

Aug 5, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper is often mentioned during conversations about the best players in baseball. But is it possible that Harper is still underrated? That’s what one Philadelphia Phillies executive believes.

Harper has been on fire in May and absolutely destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. He went 8-for-12 (.667) with three home runs and 8 RBI in three games against LA. For the month, he’s batting .396 with six home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.351 OPS.

The hot stretch led Phillies executive Dave Dombrowski to state that Harper is actually underrated.

“In some ways, with all the talent he possesses, and, all the accolades he has received, and the fact that he’s a Hall of Fame talent, in many ways he is underrated,” Dombrowski said of Harper, via MLB.com’s Mike Lupica.

That’s a bold comment and probably a bit of a stretch.

Harper entered pro baseball as one of the most hyped players ever. He was on the cover of SI as a 16-year-old. By winning two MVP awards and being on a Hall of Fame track, Harper is living up to expectations.

But Dombrowski’s argument may be reflective of the waning sentiment regarding Harper a few years ago. From 2016-2020, Harper only batted over .270 once. He had three seasons with a sub-.900 OPS, leading many to feel like the outfielder had dropped out of comparisons to Mike Trout in discussions about the best player in MLB. The drop in play is part of the reason the Washington Nationals let Harper leave in free agency.

But Harper batted .309 last season with a league-best 1.044 OPS. This year, he’s leading the NL in doubles and slugging percentage for the second season in a row. He’s regaining that top form that was always expected of him, which is great for the Phillies. But by no means does that make Harper underrated.

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