On our most recent podcast, I was talking to a guy named Mike who watches a lot of baseball. He’s a big Bryce Harper fan, and when I asked him why he liked Harper, he said he loves a good villain. I asked him to name other players who fit that mold, and he named David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and Alex Bregman. When I asked him why he chooses those guys, he said they’re the hardest to hate because they pull off a great performance every single time. He then told me how he had just finished watching a Brewers-Phillies game, and during the game, he was thinking about what Mike said before the game, and he realized that he had actually been rooting for the Phillies because they
As the 2017 MLB season gets underway, Bryce Harper has stomped his way back into the hearts of many Washington Nationals fans. In his first full season since the Nationals traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies, Harper is batting .314 with an OPS of 1.081 and 25 home runs. These numbers have caused many baseball fans to cast their gaze in wonderment on Harper.
Bryce Harper is well known for playing the role of villain when he plays for the Washington Nationals, but this summer, he is the villain of the MLB. Harper is the reason for the Nationals’ slide to last place in the NL East. He is the reason why the Nats have been outscored by an astounding 28 runs this season!
Bryce Harper has established himself as one of the most divisive players in baseball since his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16 — touted as baseball’s next “Chosen One.” Some individuals adore him, while the majority of people despise him.
Harper’s actions on the baseball field, whether he was shouting trash to the opposition or bat-flipping each home run, sparked a lot of early animosity. However, as his career developed and he had his first taste of MLB free agency, fanbases all across the league turned against him because of his choice in 2019. Harper, who is now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies after signing a 13-year, $330 million deal, has been booed almost wherever he goes.
Harper, on the other hand, has found a way to flourish despite the criticism by establishing himself as MLB’s top villain.
Bryce Harper is still the best villain in baseball.
Harper’s newest foray into the villain character occurred on August 3.
When facing his old club, the Washington Nationals, Harper took some extra time to celebrate a solo home run in the eighth inning (which ultimately proved to be the game-winning run). As he returned to the dugout, the Phillies’ superstar right fielder took his time circling the bases and then took a minute to blow kisses to the booing Nationals fans.
Since Harper left the Nationals three years ago, fans have been chirping at him nonstop, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. But he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, when he plays against his old club, he thrives.
Harper is hitting.405 versus the Nats this season, with five home runs and seven RBIs. His OPS against all opponents is presently at.967, which is the fifth-best in baseball.
The booing and name-calling elicit an additional response from Harper, making him even more dangerous at the plate.
When Harper and the Phillies lean into the league’s vitriol, they’re at their finest.
Harper’s villainous demeanor isn’t limited to his performances in Washington, D.C. He had a similar experience with the opposition fans during a regular-season game against the San Francisco Giants in 2019. The crowd in San Francisco had been booing and heckling Harper all night, so he retaliated by hitting two home runs.
Harper took the opportunity to “shush” the fans as he reached home plate after one of the home runs.
You’ve heard of Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Wrigley Field. Harper seems to be met with hostility everywhere he goes these days.
The MLB is in desperate need of a “bad guy.”
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 03: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates his eighth-inning home run against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on August 03, 2021. | Getty Images/Greg Fiume
While Harper may want to be adored by all baseball fans, Major League Baseball is undoubtedly at its finest when a select few players provoke a significant negative response. Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Mike Trout are all favorites. Someone needs to bring some balance to the sport as a whole.
Another excellent illustration of this disparity is the Houston Astros. The Astros are despised by baseball fans everywhere after the cheating scandal in which they were found guilty. While everyone hopes a controversy like this would never happen, it creates a tense atmosphere whenever the Astros face a club like the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees.
Every sport need a villain, and it seems that Harper is content to be the best in baseball. His performance at the plate warrants all of the shushing and kiss-blowing, and one can only assume he’ll keep this mentality when the NL East postseason battle heats up. The Phillies trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games, with a crucial three-game series scheduled to take place in Philadelphia.
mlb.com/stats provided all statistics.
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