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Larry Bowa wouldn’t be shocked if Bryce Harper approaches 50 home runs in 2021


Bryce Harper is entering his third season with the Phillies. (Cheryl Pursell)

If you project the numbers that Bryce Harper put up in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season out to a full 162-game season, he would have homered 36 times. Mind you, those numbers were produced despite Harper spending at least half the season dealing with a back injury that left him unable to throw in the final days of last season.

So it’s fair to think that, if healthy, Harper could hit north of 40 home runs in 2021, something that he hasn’t done since his National League MVP season in 2015.

Philadelphia Phillies franchise icon Larry Bowa is especially bullish on the power output that could come from Harper in his third season in red pinstripes.

“He’s in great shape. I don’t like to put numbers on guys, but it would not shock me if he hit between 40 and 50 home runs this season,” Bowa said to Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman on the Phillies Talk Podcast.

“I’ve never seen bat speed like this. I call him ‘The Freak.’ He has a chance to do some serious damage this year, barring injury. The ball just comes off his bat so differently than anyone else. It’s a loud sound right now.”

Harper, who is fully healthy, homered in his first at-bat in 2020 Grapefruit League play last week. Now 28, Harper has homered 48 times in his first 215 games with the Phillies. As he prepares for his 10th major league campaign, Harper has 232 career home runs.

The last Phillie to hit 40 or more home runs in a single season was Ryan Howard, who did it four consecutive seasons from 2006-2009. Cy Williams, Chuck Klein, Mike Schmidt and Jim Thome – the final three of whom are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame – are the only other Phillies to hit 40 or more home runs in one year. Howard, of course, is the lone player in franchise history to hit 50 home runs in a season, as he slugged 58 in 2006 en route to winning the National League MVP.

It should be noted that in three of the four years that Howard hit 40 or more home runs, the Phillies reached the playoffs. They didn’t in 2006, but they would have if there were two Wild Card spots at that time. So it’s fair to say that if Bowa’s prediction comes true, the Phillies may also snap a nine-year playoff drought.

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