It took until the last day of February, but Bryce Harper finally got his record-setting contract, signing a 13-year $330-million deal with the Phillies. The question on everyone’s mind is, of course, what does this mean for his fantasy value?
First and foremost, Bryce Harper is a legitimate superstar with the ceiling to be the best player in the league. It really doesn’t matter where he plays his home games. He’s going to hit and hit a lot. Having said that, he couldn’t have selected a much better park to call his new home.
Harper has played 50 games and logged 208 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park, third most among all road venues behind Citi Field and Marlins Park. He hit .268/.365/.564 with 14 homers in those 208 plate appearances. Among all stadiums, other than Nationals Park, where he’s had at least 70 plate appearances, Citizens Bank ranks fourth in slugging behind Coors Field, Wrigley Field, and SunTrust Park. Among stadiums where he’s had at least 200 plate appearances, including Nationals Park, it’s first in slugging and OPS.
Baseball Prospectus measures park factors by handedness, which helps isolate the specific tendencies that drive outcomes on balls in play at every MLB stadium. Citizens Bank Park had a 105 park factor for homers by lefties, meaning it boosted dingers by 5% over an average stadium. Nationals Park was slightly friendlier, with a homer park factor of 107 for lefties. That’s a marginal difference and, as we’ve already discussed, it’s Harper who is the driving force behind his production, not his home stadium.
My favorite part of the singing from a fantasy perspective is the team context. Harper should hit third for the Phillies, behind Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura, and in front of Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto. It’s possible that McCutchen hits fifth with Realmuto in one of the first two spots, or sixth behind the team’s new backstop. No matter what Gabe Kapler decides on a day-to-day basis, Harper is going to have immense RBI and run-scoring potential in this offense.
McCutchen has a .378 career OBP and had a .368 OBP last year. Segura’s career OBP is just .327, but that includes some lean years at the beginning of his career. His OBP was .353 over the last three seasons, with a single-season low of .341. Harper’s going to come to bat with men on base quite a bit. Hoskins, meanwhile, has 52 homers and an extra-base hit rate of 11.1% in 872 career plate appearances. Realmuto has slashed .286/.338/.454 with an extra-base hit rate of 9% over the last three seasons. Add to that all the times that Harper will plate himself, and he’ll be a significant threat to both score and drive in 100 runs.
Look, Harper has been one of the best players in the majors from the moment he first stepped foot in the league, and is somehow still just 26 years old. You should’ve loved him from a fantasy perspective before this signing, and you should love him all the same now. In the fantasy world, it didn’t really matter where he ended up. But it’s nice to finally know where he’ll be doing damage this season, and for the 12 after this one, too.