Our long national baseball nightmare has mercifully ended: Bryce Harper and his advisers finally accepted the largest total contract in big league history, and the Philadelphia Phillies boast a new, awesome right fielder and power presence. Harper's fantasy value is a tad better than it was yesterday, though it is a stretch to make him a first-round draft pick in our game, which has occurred in the past. Other hitters are certainly more consistent, proven and durable. A late second-round pick or early third-round choice makes more sense, unless you think another season like 2015 is pending.
Then again, hitting in Philadelphia is a bit more fun than hitting in Washington, D.C., and certainly more than in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the other rumored destinations. According to ESPN Fantasy colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft, Citizens Bank Park is second for park factors in home runs and among the 10 best for home runs by left-handed hitters over the past five seasons. Harper figures to hit second or third in what is surely an improved lineup, and he gets a boost from his new home stadium.
Of course, there is reason for relative caution when it comes to evaluating Harper in fantasy based solely on statistics. He has played seven seasons, started in his teenage years, and there has been little to no consistency in the numbers. He has hit better than .300 twice and worse than .250 twice, and those rougher seasons came in the past three years. Harper has hit 30 home runs twice. He stole 13 bases during the 2018 season, and since his rookie season, he has topped that mark once. He might steal 20 bases ... or not even half that.
Finally, Harper has played in 140 games in three of those seven seasons. Projecting ahead for this player, even as he hits his presumed prime seasons, with any degree of certainty is dangerous, and thus mild, understandable trepidation from fantasy managers makes some sense. That noted, he is likely to be a top-20 pick in most leagues.
Harper's addition is bad news for outfielder Nick Williams, but it is tough to find many that were hitching fantasy wagons to him. Adding him to the lineup, since he brings so much plate discipline with the power, should aid first baseman Rhys Hoskins as well as whoever settles in at the very top of the lineup, be it Cesar Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen or someone else. The Phillies will score more runs than last season, and they are a lot more interesting now.