The Phillies are currently riding a five game winning streak while Bryce Harper continues to reside on another planet. Over his last 18 games, Harper has clubbed eight homers and is hitting .306 in that span. His numbers with runners in scoring position also continue to be remarkable, with an RISP well above .300 as we approach September.
Of course the high point of this current stretch, as well as the 2019 season to date, was Harper’s walk-off grand slam. We’ve all seen it dozens of times now and after close to 48 hours of time to take it all in, I can honestly say it was an all time great Phillies moment.
Seemingly everything about this moment was perfect. John Kruk’s “OH MY GOD” is the gut reaction we all had to watching that ball jump off the bat. Of course everyone would hope for a grand slam, but a walk-off grand slam to complete a much needed sweep? I don’t think any of us were expecting something so dramatic. A ball in the gap would have been excellent, but Bryce Harper’s upper deck moonshot was truly something spectacular. The full on sprint around the base paths was the cherry on top that made this a truly great Phillies moment.
Harper’s Grand Slam Was The Moment When All Doubt Was Removed
What made this moment a likely all time great moment, however, was how this will be remembered as the day Philadelphia went all in on Harper. I’m not saying that he hasn’t been well received by the city and fans, because he has; but there have certainly been doubters. 330 million over 13 years is one hell of a commitment and as a result, Harper has been straddled with absurd expectations. Baseball fans in general seem to have this idea that if Harper isn’t Mike Trout every year, he isn’t living up to his contract.
A-lot of it also has to do with the fact that Harper has been such a heavily promoted player his entire career. Since his debut at 19 years old, the MLB has been expecting MVP numbers or bust from Harper. So considering all this, are fans and pundits not justified in expecting great things?
They totally are, but the simple fact of the matter is that Bryce Harper has been exactly what the Phillies paid for. He’s one of the biggest names in the sport whose presence alone instantly raises a team’s caliber. On the field, he has again delivered largely as expected. Harper walks a ton, hits home runs and most importantly, has stretches where he goes unconscious and straight up carries a team. That is what makes Bryce Harper a special player, and Phillies fans are currently being treated to one of those stretches.
What this moment signifies is the day that all doubt stopped. Nobody will question his batting average or start doubting during a cold streak. Harper may be a streaky player, but these types of runs are what defines elite. There are few players in baseball capable of carrying a team like Harper can. Does Mike Trout carry the Angels all by himself? We all know the answer to that, so it is unrealistic to ask the same of Harper.
Plus, Harper has never once dogged it. He plays hard, even in the midst of brutal slumps, which is something that is treasured by this fan base.
Phillies fans know this and in my opinion, they’ve always known it. As I said earlier, the fan support has overall been insanely positive. But from now on, I don’t think there will be an ounce of doubt surrounding his contract. Two weeks ago a hot streak from this team seemed like a pipe dream. Now, thanks to one player in particular, it’s a reality. Like all things in baseball, it just took time to play out.
The energy behind the Phillies right now is overwhelmingly positive and when we look back at this grand slam years later, I think it will clearly be remembered as the day where Bryce Harper was fully embraced by the city.
Does it get more Philly than that? No, the answer is no.