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Bryce Harper: We will reign again


Bryce Harper had a strong individual season in 2019. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Bryce Harper launched a 116 mile per hour home run Tuesday evening in Washington, one of the more impressive home runs of the 2019 season. The home run came in a 6-5 loss to his former team, though, as they were swept in a double-header against the Nationals. The first loss Tuesday eliminated the Phillies from playoff contention. After the second loss, the Nationals celebrated a Wild Card berth.

Harper, though, remains bullish on the future of the Phillies, who he’s signed to play for through the 2031 season.

Prior to the Phillies season finale Sunday afternoon against the Marlins, Harper spoke to the fans at Citizens Bank Park. While he acknowledged that the 81-80 Phillies have fallen short of expectations in one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history, Harper believes that the Phillies will return to the kind of success they had just prior to his career beginning in 2012.

“Before today’s game, from myself and my teammates, just wanted to tell you guys thank you for all of your support this year. I know it didn’t go as planned, but I believe in this organization. We will reign again.”

The Phillies entered Sunday afternoon looking for their 82nd win, which would allow them to post a winning record for the first time since 2011. That, after one of the greatest on-paper offseason in baseball history, was seen as a bare minimum entering the 2019 season. But beyond Aaron Nola, the Phillies have gotten next-to-no consistent starting pitching. The only two members of their Opening Day bullpen that are still standing are Hector Neris and Jose Alvarez. Andrew McCutchen suffered a season-ending torn ACL on June 3 in San Diego. Odubel Herrera, an All-Star in 2016, was arrested for a domestic violence incident in late May, eventually was suspended for the remainder of the season and faces an uncertain future with the team.

Beyond the on-field product, second-year manager Gabe Kapler’s future with the team isn’t yet known. General manager Matt Klentak was extended through 2022 in March, but he’s certainly drawn criticism for betting on the trio of Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez to make up three-fifths of the Phillies starting rotation, among other things. The Phillies have quite a bit to sort out this offseason as they attempt to compete in a crowded National League East division that will send both the Atlanta Braves and Washington National to the postseason.

Individually, while Harper didn’t make the National League All-Star team for the first time since 2014, he’s had a strong second-half that make his full season numbers among the better second-tier performers in the National League. The 26-year-old launched his 35th home run Saturday, evening, the second most he’s hit in an individual season. He’s set a career-high with 114 RBIs. His 99 walks are ninth among all players in the league.

Harper, who didn’t sign with the Phillies until March 2, thanked the fanbase for being so welcoming to his family.

“On a personal level, I just want to say thank you so much for inviting me and my family into this city. It’s been an incredible year for myself just coming to a city that I didn’t really know anything about. I just want to say thank you so much. You guys have made this year so good. Thank you. See you guys next year.”

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