Bryce Harper is entering his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but will have just 60 games to make an impact this time around.
The Major League Baseball season is scheduled to begin at the end of July, with each team playing 60 games in the regular season. Harper has had varying degrees of success in the first 60 games of a season throughout his career. He will certainly be a key for the Phillies in 2020, and how he performs over a 60-game stretch could be the difference between the team making the postseason or missing it once again.
As Harper and the Phillies prepare for the shortened 2020 season, let’s take a look at how he has done in the first 60 games he’s played in each year of his career:
Harper made his rookie debut for the Washington Nationals on April 28, 2012, less than two years after being taken with the first pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He hit a double and a sacrifice fly in that first game, and did not slow down much over the next 59 games.
Harper had an on-base percentage of .355 as a 19-year-old in those first 60 games, also hitting 15 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. He played extremely solid defense at all three outfield positions as well, getting extended time in center field and right field. Harper posted an OPS of .836 through 60 games on his way to being named the National League Rookie of the Year at the end of the season.
The first Opening Day of Harper’s career brought him two home runs off Miami Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. He started off his sophomore season extremely hot, but missed all of June after hurting his knee colliding with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium. So while there was a gap in when his first 60 games of 2013 took place, Harper was still productive in that stretch, hitting 13 home runs with an OPS of .895.
This season was the most disappointing of Harper’s career, and his first 60 games of it reflect that. Harper, who played mostly left field in 2014, struggled in March and April. Then on April 25, he injured his thumb, which kept him out until the end of June. Harper hit only six home runs through his first 60 games of this season with a .726 OPS.
Harper’s 2015 was one of the best offensive seasons of any player since the turn of the century. The start of this season was no different from the rest of the year — Harper was utterly incredible. Through 60 games played, he hit 21 home runs while batting .333, getting on base at a .469 clip and slugging .721, good for a 1.190 OPS.
The star outfielder rode this hot start all season. He continued to show his ability to reach base and hit for power that he flashed early on. Harper would go on to cruise to the NL Most Valuable Player award for 2015.
2016 was another hot start for Harper as he looked to follow up his MVP campaign. He reached base at another tremendous rate to start the year, posting a .412 on-base percentage through 60 games played. He also hit 13 home runs and had an OPS of .923 in that stretch.
Harper would ultimately not quite be able to follow up his previous season, finishing the year with an .814 OPS. Still, he played at a very high level in the first 60 games of the 2016 season.
Harper may have been able to secure his second MVP if not for a knee injury late in the 2017 season. He got off to an outstanding start once again, producing right away with a home run on Opening Day. Harper had an on-base percentage of .425 in his first 60 games with an OPS of 1.043. He only ended up playing 111 total games that year, but Harper was dangerous at the plate when he was on the field, especially early in the season.
A low batting average may have been deceiving to some, but Harper really did have a solid start to 2018. He did only bat .227 through his first 60 games, but he still had an on-base percentage of .386. If Harper is getting on base and hitting extra-base hits, he is going be productive. And that’s exactly what he did to start 2018, finishing his first 60 games played with 18 home runs and an .880 OPS.
Harper’s first 60 games as a Phillie went similarly to his first 60 in 2018. He had a batting average of .243, but was still producing well overall. He hit 11 home runs during that stretch with an OPS of .832. Harper would go on to have a stronger second half for the Phillies, but was still a reliable addition to the team in the beginning of the season as well.
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