FOX Sports MLB Analyst
Every single Bryce Harper home run is an experience.
The swing itself is an athletic marvel. His body uncorking itself in a flash, with that trademark combination of rotational violence and total control is singular. A comically explosive move that few hitters could dream of replicating. His back hip blasting through space like a battering ram, his hands whipping forward like a cobra striking its prey.
And when the timing lines up perfectly, like it has so many times since his debut in April 2012, the product is sheer magic, lightning released from a bottle. A Harper homer is elemental, rapturous and, more often than not, incredibly timely. Since his teenage years, Harper has had a flair for the dramatic, a preternatural feel for the big moment.
Homer No. 300 was no different.
With his Phillies down a run to the Angels in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon, Harper delivered yet another clip for the Cooperstown highlight reel. Against fellow 2012 prospect graduate Matt Moore, Harper clobbered a first pitch slider up toward the clouds and down into the front row of the right-field seats.
Citizens Bank Park predictably lost its mind as Harper rounded the sacks, soaking up the moment. As he crossed home plate, the Phillies talisman pumped his fist, hollered a “lets go,” and skipped his way into a throng of teammates waiting on the top step.
The Phillies would go on to lose the game, as closer Craig Kimbrel coughed up three in the top of the ninth, but the outcome couldn’t completely dampen a celebratory day for Harper and a mind-blowing month for the Phillies. Since Aug. 1st, the Fightins have knocked an MLB-best 59 home runs, which have carried them to a 17-10 record over that span.
Much of that has to do with the resurgence of Trea Turner, who has been buoyed by a standing ovation early in the month. But Harper has been just as crucial.
After a career-long home run drought between May 25th and July 15th turned a few heads, the hirsute slugger has bounced back with 11 long balls in August. Harper, who sped back from a November elbow surgery in early May, looks fully operational, completely recovered from his injury. The bat speed, the torque, the freedom in his swing, it’s all back and as good as ever.
Bryce Harper smacks 300th HR to help Phillies regain lead vs. Angels
After Harper descended into the dugout, the home crowd continued its revelry, demanding a curtain call from their beloved franchise player. Harper, ever the showman, popped back out to recognize the crowd, kissing the logo on his uniform. Call it pandering, call it performing, call it genuine appreciation, but the bond between city and player grows stronger by the week.
Home run No. 300 is yet another reminder that Harper, the most anticipated amateur prospect maybe ever, the most expensive signing in Phillies history, is built for this and always will be. He is a character that always lives up to the moment, who thrives off hype and lets it fuel him toward greatness. Pressure does not phase him — what a laughable concept — because as we learned from his heroics last October, he expects to deliver.
Anything less is failure.
And we, the adoring public, the baseball-watching bystanders, are just lucky to witness the magnificence. And while there is much Bryce Harper left, let’s use this milestone to appreciate what we’ve already seen.
Bryce Harper hammers solo home run to tie game against Angels
There have been head-high lightning bolts, like this heat-seeking missile from 2017. There have been tape-measure shots, like this 473 foot mega-bomb against the Phillies from his days with the Nationals. Don’t forget the highlight reel of the 40 homers he ripped in his 2015 MVP campaign at just age 22.
And, of course, there’s the smattering of outrageously clutch dingers, including the one against Max Scherzer in his return to D.C., the walk-off grand slam against the Cubs in his first season in Philly, and numerous walk-off and go-ahead blasts that have brought crowds in two cities to their feet.
Harper is a promise fulfilled, for Nats fans, for Phillies fans and for the sport as a whole.
Jake Mintz, the louder half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He played college baseball, poorly at first, then very well, very briefly. Jake lives in New York City where he coaches Little League and rides his bike, sometimes at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.
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