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2021 report card: Bryce Harper

The Phillies right fielder was pretty good this year.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It feels a little silly to write one of these for Bryce Harper.

Report cards make a lot of sense for the less consequential Phillies. A report card can be the only good opportunity to write about players like Jorge Bonifacio or Cam Bedrosian. It’s nice to take a moment to think about the players we don’t usually spend much time thinking about, and hopefully we get to learn something about them we might not have already known.

But we’ve already written about Bryce Harper quite a lot on this website. What is there to say in a report card that hasn’t already been said?

I could show you the numbers, but you’ve already seen them countless times.

I could talk about the good, but it’s already been done time and again.

I could talk about the bad, but that would just mean writing about Harper’s poor May when he was playing through injury after getting hit in the wrist and the face. Sure, his numbers were bad that month, but that wasn’t his fault in the slightest and the Phillies were still better off with him on the active roster.

I could give him a grade, but you know what it would be. (How could I give him anything other than an A+?)

So let’s skip straight to the final section of these report cards — the future. What does the future hold for the 29-year-old reigning NL MVP.

The future

It’s become pretty clear that the 13-year, $330 million contract Bryce Harper signed in February 2019 was a bargain for the Phillies.

When Harper signed the biggest free agent contract in MLB history, it brought out chants of “overrated” from opposing teams’ fanbases. It’s safe to say, Bryce Harper has now done everything humanly possible to silence those jeers.

Harper will be just 29 years old next season, which means he should have plenty more years left in the prime of his career. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be the heart of the Phillies’ offense for many years to come. And while he doesn’t need to win another MVP to be worth his contract, he has as good a shot as anyone to win again next season. That being said, with Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis Jr. around, his competition will be stiff.

Finally, while Harper should continue to play at a superstar level for a handful of years, that doesn’t make the Phillies’ need to field a competitive team any less urgent. John Middleton gave Bryce Harper hundreds of millions of dollars for a reason: to be the centerpiece of a championship-caliber baseball team. Harper has done his part, and now the front office needs to do theirs.