The Bryce Harper experiment at first base is becoming the long-term answer for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters Wednesday that the former MVP will stay for now. via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
“We decided that we would let him play first base. Internally, we initially liked the idea of playing him.
Harper spent the first eleven seasons of his career playing as an outfielder or designated hitter (fun fact: he played catcher in college). Prior to the 2023 season, Harper had made two appearances at first base in his professional career – neither as a starter – until he was selected first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft.
That status quo was thrown into disarray this season after Harper underwent Tommy John surgery last November. Harper was originally slated to be a full-time designated hitter, but Harper took over at first base after the Phillies struggled to find a replacement for longtime starter Rhys Hoskins, who missed all of 2023 due to a torn ACL he suffered in spring training. missed.
The returns at Harper were initially surprisingly good for a man who, for the first time in his life, was playing a position regularly, even if it was the generally accepted easiest position on the diamond. In the advanced defensive numbers, Harper recorded one defensive run saved and three outs above average, both statistics in which zero indicates league average.
Harper’s success continued into the postseason, as he initially looked like a natural during the Phillies’ run to the NLCS:
With Harper now set to cover first base in 2024 and beyond and Kyle Schwarber seeing more time as the designated hitter, the Phillies appear to be saying goodbye to Hoskins, their second-longest-tenured player behind Aaron Nola. Dombrowski said Wednesday that he had explained the decision to Hoskins.
Hoskins is now a free agent and is likely looking for a team with which he can have a successful year and get back into the market next winter.