Phillies were far too reliant on Bryce Harper’s heroics this season

Phillies were far too reliant on Bryce Harper’s heroics this season

Bryce Harper homered and drove in four runs Saturday night as the Phillies evened their series in Cleveland. 

“We win when Harper hits,” manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. 

Those five words are more accurate than the 2019 Phillies would have liked.

The Phillies are 24-7 this season when Harper homers. They are 42–17 when he drives in a run. 

That means they are 37-57 (20 games under .500!) when Harper does not drive in a run. 

When it’s all said and done, Harper will almost certainly end 2019 with the second-most plate appearances, home runs and doubles of his career. Two homers and two doubles would give him more than he’s had in any season other than 2015, when he won NL MVP. 

Through 148 games, Harper has hit .256/.372/.500 with 33 HR and 108 RBI. A good game Sunday would result in his slugging percentage and OPS reaching their highest point since the end of April. 

It has been a very good season from Harper, just not a superhuman one that made up for the Phillies’ many deficiencies. Given what we know about the 2019 Phillies, it would have taken a Christian Yelich- or Anthony Rendon-like 2019 season from Harper to maybe carry the Phils into the postseason. 

This team is more heavily dependent on Harper than it would have hoped. That 37-57 record in games Harper doesn’t drive in a run would likely be better if Rhys Hoskins wasn’t hitting .172 with a .688 OPS over his last 50 games. 

The Phillies’ best hitter (Harper) is fine. One of the questions they must dig deep to answer objectively this offseason is whether their second-best hitter is good enough, whether Hoskins in the cleanup spot provides enough protection moving forward or if it’s a necessity to go acquire another big bat. Rendon will be a free agent. So too might J.D. Martinez, who can opt out of his Red Sox deal after the World Series. 

The Phillies this season have performed like a 64-win team when they don’t get an RBI from Harper. That can’t happen again in 2020. The early years of his 13-year contract figure to be the most productive and cannot go to waste. 

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Phillies move closer to hiring hitting coach, but could they lose staff to Gabe Kapler and Giants?

Phillies move closer to hiring hitting coach, but could they lose staff to Gabe Kapler and Giants?

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Phillies are looking to have a hitting coach in place in the next week or so, according to general manager Matt Klentak.

The field of candidates has been thinned with veteran hitting coach Chili Davis returning to the New York Mets. By all indications, that leaves Joe Dillon and Matt Stairs as the two finalists for the Phillies’ job, though it’s not uncommon for late candidates to emerge. The Phillies interviewed both Dillon and Stairs last week and were in contact with Davis, as well. Dillon has been Washington’s assistant hitting coach the last two seasons. Stairs was the Phillies’ hitting coach in 2017 and the Padres’ hitting coach in 2018.

Dillon might be the favorite because of his close connection to Kevin Long, Washington’s hitting coach. Long was hitting coach with the Yankees during Joe Girardi’s time as manager of that club. Girardi, the Phillies' new manager, has great respect for Long’s work and Long has called Dillon the best assistant hitting coach in baseball.

“I think we’re looking for the best possible candidate to work with our guys, and obviously with a new manager it’s going to be important that the person is on the same page philosophically with Joe,” Klentak said of the hitting coach job. “We’re interviewing people with a variety of backgrounds, some of whom this would be their first time as a hitting coach and others that have done it for some time. We’re just looking for the best possible candidate. We’re not going in with a specific resume that someone has to have.”

At the moment, hitting coach is the only opening on the Phillies’ coaching staff. However, it would not be surprising if another spot were to open now that the San Francisco Giants have named Gabe Kapler manager. Kapler was fired as Phillies skipper last month and could seek to take a member or two of the Phillies’ holdover coaching staff with him. Potential departures could include first base/outfield coach Paco Figueroa, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, catching instructor Craig Driver or bullpen coach Jim Gott. All are under contract with the Phillies for 2020 but the club might let one or two of them go so Girardi could have more say in building his coaching staff. Girardi oversaw the hiring of pitching coach Bryan Price and, obviously, has much say on the hitting coach hire.

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Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Gabe Kapler was a pretty polarizing figure in Philadelphia with a slight majority of fans disapproving of his managerial style and general demeanor as skipper of the Phillies. He had some progressive fans in his corner though.

Based on the reactions to the San Francisco Giants' announcement of Kapler as their next manager, you'd think he was the worst thing to ever happen to the game of baseball.

Fans were not pleased with the hire. Not one bit. From fans saying they're no longer going to be fans of the team after 40+ years of fandom to people saying they plan on canceling their season tickets, there was plenty of vitriol directed at the Giants. Here's a sampling:

And a check in from Philly:

Anyway, that's just a sampling. Go check out the Giants' actual tweet to see some of the brutal replies. And good luck to you, Giants fans. You will need it.