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Trivia: When Bryce wasn’t best

Bryce Harper led the 2021 Phillies in most offensive categories — do you know which ones he didn’t lead in?

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper was the best hitter on the 2021 Phillies, and it wasn’t particularly close. He led the team in almost every important offensive category, from plate appearances to home runs to wRC+.

That being said, there were a handful of areas in which Bryce Harper was not the team leader. For example, of all 40 men to take a single plate appearance for the Phillies in 2021, none had a higher on-base percentage or slugging percentage than Harper, but two had a higher batting average.

Any guesses as to which two?

I’ll give you a couple hints. The 2021 Phillies team leader in batting average (0 minimum PA) was a former top prospect. He hit .333 in 7 PA. He is no longer on the roster.

The runner-up was probably not a name you knew before the 2021 season. He hit .324 in 77 PA, and he remains on the Phillies roster.

The answers are Spencer Howard, who went 2-for-6 with a walk before he was traded to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline, and Matt Vierling, who went 23-for-71 and likely earned himself a spot on the 2022 Opening Day roster.

When it comes to qualified hitters (of which the Phillies had only four), Harper led in almost every rate stat. He had the highest batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walk rate, isolated power, BABIP, wOBA, and wRC+. However, Jean Segura had him beat when it came to strikeout rate.

Jean Segura struck out in just 13.8% of his plate appearances last season. That excellent K% ranked sixth in the National League. Harper’s 22.4% was still slightly better than the 23.4% NL average, but not nearly as good as Segura’s.

Win probability statistics are another area in which Bryce Harper performed extremely well in 2021. Both his 4.56 Win Probability Added and his 6.09 Context Neutral Wins led not only the Phillies, but the entire National League.

However, Harper actually finished last on the Phillies (and fifth-last in the NL) in “Clutch”, which compares a player’s win probability added in high leverage situations to his win probability added in a context neutral environment. In other words, it tells you how much better a player performed in high leverage situations than he did on average.

It’s important to emphasize that Clutch only tells us about a player’s performance in comparison to himself. Thus, while Harper may have been worse in high leverage situations than he was on average, he was still the best man the Phillies could have had up with the game on the line.

Among qualified players, J.T. Realmuto lead the Phillies in Clutch with 0.88, while among all players, Ronald Torreyes lead the team with a 1.68 Clutch.


Now, without further ado, I present the eight standard counting stat categories in which Bryce Harper did not lead the Phillies in 2021. It shouldn't be too hard, so I’ve only given you three minutes, but you might be surprised by a couple of the answers. You should be able to play using the embedded game below, but here’s the link to the quiz on Sporcle if you’d prefer to play that way.