Bryce Harper’s legacy is still very much being written, but as the Philadelphia Phillies right fielder celebrates his 28th birthday Friday, his career is very much trending in the direction of Cooperstown.
Already a six-time All-Star, Harper won the National League MVP in 2015 and has 232 home runs prior to playing a single game at 28. To put that in perspective, Ryan Howard – who didn’t play a full season until his age-26 season – hit just 129 of his 382 career home runs before his 28th birthday.
Only one player, Mike Schmidt, has hit his 500th home run as a member of the Phillies. Schmidt led baseball in home runs three times before his 28th birthday, but he debuted at age-22, while Harper did so as a teenager. So when Schmidt turned 28, he had 169 home runs in the bank, 63 less than Harper currently does. Whether Harper will top Schmidt’s career mark of 548 is unclear, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at Harper’s top-five home runs from his shortened second season in red pinstripes.
No. 5: Harper Has Just Enough To Tie Things Up
Harper’s Aug. 11 home run was one of the shortest that he’s hit as a Phillie, but also one of his most timely.
In one of the crazier Phillies games in recent memory, Harper hit a fence-scraper in the bottom of the eighth inning, tying the game at five. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they’d lose a wild extra-inning game that most remember for Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins’ miscommunication on a pop up that ultimately dropped in the field.
There are quite a few parallels between this home run and one that Harper hit in his first season as a Phillie. In 2019, Harper hit an opposite-field, game-tying home run at Dodger Stadium in the eighth inning, only for the Phillies to lose an early June game on a walk-off home run.
No. 4: Harper Opens Huge Night With Bomb
Entering a Sept. 17 matchup with the division-rival New York Mets, Harper, dealing with a lower back problem, had just one home run in 24 games. In his first two at-bats of the game on this brisk Thursday evening, Harper homered twice.
The first of the two was a 433-foot shot over the center field wall, part of back-to-back-to-back home runs that also included blasts from Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius.
Rather incredibly, this home run was Harper’s shortest one of the evening:
No. 3: The Familiar Road
On Aug. 5, the Phillies played perhaps the most unique doubleheader in franchise history.
Not only did the day mark the first seven-inning doubleheader in franchise history, but because Game 1 was a makeup that initially was supposed to be played at Yankee Stadium, the Phillies were the road team at Citizens Bank Park in it. To add to the confusion, the Phillies still wore their pinstriped home jerseys – not typically worn for day games at Citizens Bank Park – because the Yankees only wanted to bring one set of uniforms with them on the road.
In any event, Harper brought a sense of normalcy with his bat in the top of the third, as he tagged former Phillie J.A. Happ for a 383-foot round-tripper:
No. 2: The Longest Home Run Of Harper’s Second Season
No, the Phillies didn’t win on Saturday, Aug. 22. But instead of diving too deeply into one of many bullpen meltdowns in 2020, we’ll focus on the titanic home run that Harper hit in the top of the first inning.
With a runner already on first base, Harper launched a 470-foot home run, the second longest of his career.
As Harper turns 28, he’s tortured the Braves more than any other team in the sport, with 34 career home runs against Atlanta. He’s still 18 home runs behind the aforementioned Howard’s career mark of 52 home runs against the Braves, but he’s got at least 11 more season to catch him:
No. 1: The One That Went To Barry Bonds Territory
Harper’s first multi-home run game as a Phillie came on Aug. 10, 2019 in San Francisco, with his second homer of the game landing in McCovey Cove, a bay most associated with Barry Bonds home run balls.
On Sept. 17, 2020, Harper again went to Barry Bonds territory, only this time it was at Citizens Bank Park.
In the 17 seasons that Citizens Bank Park has been the home of the Phillies, Howard is the only player (Phillie or opponent) to hit a ball into the third deck in right field. For good measure, the Big Piece did it twice.
However, the aforementioned Bonds is the author of one of the most tremendous home runs in the history of the park, having hit a ball off the facing of the third deck on Sunday Night Baseball in May of 2006:
14 seasons later, Harper hit a nearly identical home run, his second in as many innings in a September game against the Mets. It’s safe to say that McDonalds picked a great place in the stadium to advertise at:
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