Harper? I Hardly Know Her!

Breaking down the top hitting performances from yesterday's games

Bryce Harper (PHI): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Bryce Harper had an outstanding season for the Phillies in 2020. In 58 games Harper walked more than he struck out and finished the season with a 151 wRC+. Through 58 games in 2021, Harper is putting together an impressive encore season for Philadelphia. He has matched last year’s total of 13 home runs and has improved his batting average seven points, from .265 to .272. Although Harper’s batting average has improved from 2020 to 2021, his on-base percentage has declined from .420 to .385. The reason for this dropoff is that Harper is walking less and striking out more.

In 2020 Harper walked more than he struck out for the first time in his career. This season, however, Harper has struck out nearly twice as many times (63) as he has walked (33). His K rate has jumped from 17.6% to 25.8%. This increase in strikeouts means Harper is putting fewer balls in play, perhaps explaining why he has totaled ten fewer RBI this season than he had last season. Harper has excellent plate discipline, meaning the increase in strikeouts can be traced to his whiff rate, which has from 28.6% to 33.5%. None of this information is to suggest that baseball’s golden child is struggling, simply illustrating the changes from one season to the next.

By any standard, Harper is a unique talent putting together another exceptional season. Although Harper is taking fewer free passes than he did last season, his 13.5% walk rate still ranks in the league’s 90th percentile. This plate discipline allows him to see the ball travel and pick and choose the pitches he wants to hit. Harper went deep twice last night and finished with the game 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday

Salvador Pérez (KC): 4-4, HR, R, RBI.

It was a four-hit effort for Salvador Pérez in Kansas City’s 6-2 loss to Boston last night. The 2020 AL Comeback Player of the Year is having yet another strong season here in 2021. Pérez’s 52% hard-hit rate ranks in the 98th percentile of the league and his barrel rate of 13.8% ranks in the 88th percentile of the league. Pérez leads all qualified catchers in batting average, RBI, and home runs.

Juan Soto (WSH): 3-5, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB.

Before leaving last night’s game with a cramp in his leg, Soto put on a clinic in the nation’s capital. The star outfielder picked up three hits and two stolen bases in his team’s blowout win over Tampa Bay. The stolen bases were Soto’s fourth and fifth of the year. Last night was Soto’s fourth three-hit game of the season.

Brett Gardner (NYY): 2-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

This season has been an endless pit of pain and misery for the Yankees, and perhaps no one has had a more putrid season than Brett Gardner. Forced into an everyday role due to the injury to Aaron Hicks, Gardner no longer has the bat to provide consistent production at the plate. However, last night was a throwback performance for Gardner. He reached base all four of his plate appearances, scored twice, homered, and drove in two runs.

Jared Walsh (LAA): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Following up on the Yankees pain and misery, it was Jared Walsh who tied last night’s game at 8 with a ninth-inning grand slam off of Aroldis
Chapman, his second home run of the game. It was the third multi-home run game of the season for Walsh, who now has 20 on the season. His .913 OPS is good for the top 20 in the league.

Luis Urías (MIL): 4-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.

After snapping an eleven-game hitting streak in an 0-4 effort on Tuesday, Urías bounced back with his first four-hit night of the year. Not only did Urías have four hits last night, but he went deep twice and finished the game with three runs scored and four RBI. Urías had a strong month of June, improving his batting average from .223  to .247 over the course of the month.

Ozzie Albies (ATL): 5-6, 2 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, SB.

Atlanta dropped a 20 piece McNugget on the Mets last night in an abysmal showing from New York. Albies had an absolute monster game. The 24-year-old second basemen drove in seven of Atlanta’s 20 runs scored in a career night. Albies went yard twice and added three singles, driving in at least a run with each of his base hits.

Dylan Moore (SEA): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.

It has been a brutal season for Dylan Moore so far, he is hitting under .200 and is striking out in more than 30% of his plate appearances. Last night was a step in the right direction for Moore as he played hero for the Mariners, delivering a three-run home run in the top of the tenth inning that would hold up as the game-winner for Seattle.

Trea Turner (WSH): 4-4, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 R, RBI, 2 SB.

Trea Turner made history while celebrating his 28th birthday last night when he became just the fifth player ever to hit for the cycle three times in his career. This was the first cycle since Cavan Biggio did it in September of 2019. As if hitting for the cycle was not good enough for Turner, he added two stolen bases to put another exclamation point on his stat line.

 

 

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

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