Bryce Harper, 31, of the Philadelphia Phillies, is taking on an unfamiliar challenge in his 12th year in the big leagues. He’s making a position change from outfielder to first baseman.
“The overall reaction from league officials to Harper’s conversion to first base has been positive,” the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported.
“But Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson said, ‘Harper has yet to make a difficult throw from first base to another base. We need to see how strong and accurate he can throw in a situation where he has to make a throw to another base. He still has a mountain to climb before he can make a complete transition to first base.”
Philadelphia manager Rob Thompson, 60, expressed a similar view. “It’s only been a couple of games since Harper’s transition to first base,” he told local media, “and as he gets more experience, he’s going to be on first base every day. But we’ll have to see what he does in a pinch-hit situation where he has to throw to second or home,” he said, making it clear that Harper’s move was not just a fitness or injury precaution.
Harper, a right-handed hitter from Nevada, USA, was drafted by Washington with the first overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The former No. 1 overall pick broke into the major leagues in 2012 after just two years in the organization.
While the speedy debut was remarkable, he batted .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs in his first year, winning the National League Rookie of the Year award, signaling that Harper’s time was coming. Since then, he has developed into one of the league’s most dominant outfielders, winning seven All-Star nods, two National League Most Valuable Player awards, and the National League home run title (2015). 먹튀검증
His career big league numbers, including this season, include a .280 batting average (5217-for-1463), 290 home runs, 849 RBI, and a .906 OPS in 1459 games. He became a free agent in 2019, signing a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies.
However, after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his throwing right elbow during last season, he was limited to playing designated hitter instead of his normal position in right field. He underwent Tommy John surgery in November after the season ended to repair the ligament in his elbow.
Harper, who has been rehabbing ever since, was expected to return to the field around the All-Star break this season, but rejoined the team in May. However, he played only as an offensive designated hitter to prevent a recurrence of the injury. He has only played first base in nine games, including Friday’s game against Kansas City.
Prior to last year, Harper had played 1,328 games in the outfield and 106 games as a designated hitter. He has only started two games at first base (2018 and 2021), and those were as a pinch hitter.
“Harper’s decision to make the transition to first base is looking good so far. He is working tirelessly on the field every day to adjust to the new environment (first base) and so far it hasn’t been a problem.” “Harper has played third base in the past in the amateur ranks and has great athleticism, so he should do well.”
“Coach Dickerson has been working with Harper on the field every day to help him successfully transition to the position, drawing out different situations on the field, such as how he should position himself between first and second base and how he should prepare for and react to bunt situations,” the media outlet said.
“But practice is not the same as game day, so it takes a lot of practice and a lot of game day experience to develop a solid first base defense,” he said, noting that Harper’s transition to first base won’t be a quick one. In fact, Harper missed a grounder sideways while playing first base against Pittsburgh on March 31 and fumbled the ball while trying to retrieve it, eventually giving up an infield single.