The Phillies couldn’t help it but admire what they witnessed on Friday in a 7-3 loss to the Nationals.
Five-time All-Star and 2015 National League MVP, Bryce Harper, notched his 11th and 12th home runs of the season in dramatic fashion. His first was a leadoff blast the opposite way to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. His second was a 473-foot shot to deep center that registered as the fifth longest home run of the season.
At the end of it all, the Phillies were down 5-0 in just the second inning and Nick Pivetta was pulled after just 46 pitches.
“He’s a good hitter. He’s on fire right now,” Pivetta said of Harper. “I had some success against him earlier, but he got me tonight. It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes.”
Harper’s two home runs moved him into first in the NL. He also leads the NL in RBI with 28.
The admiration that the Phillies have for Harper as a player is obvious. Since the Phillies’ dominance in the NL East from 2007–11, Harper has led the Nationals to four division titles in the past six seasons.
According to FanRag’s Robert Murray, an MLB Executive said that the Phillies will “get one” of either Harper or Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the offseason.
It’s interesting to see how Harper has responded against a team that so many look at as his next career destination. Harper’s 19 home runs against the Phillies since the 2015 season are the most he has against any other opponent in that time span. For his career, he’s batted .282 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI in 323 plate appearances against the Phillies.
But, his next destination is a touchy subject for Harper. Back in February, he told reporters he would walk out of a press conference if he was asked about his future beyond this season. He’s remained quiet on the topic since.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, six MLB front-office executives believe that Harper could field a contract over $400 million this winter, which would be a league record. The current record is held by Giancarlo Stanton, who signed a 13-year, $325 million deal in 2014.
The Phillies have been shedding salary and gearing up for several years at the chance land Harper this offseason. They’re willing to spend whatever it takes to get him.
With every passing at-bat against the Phillies, it’s hard not to envision a world of Harper in the red pinstripes. Pairing him next to a young superstar in the making in Rhys Hoskins would instantly make the Phillies one of the most dangerous teams in the MLB.
Until that time comes, Harper will have plenty more games like he had Friday against the Phillies and the visions are all fans can hold on to.