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May 16, 2022

Who won the week in Philly sports: Bryce Harper leads surging Phillies

A new Monday brings a new selection for the person who "won the week" in Philly sports. The Sixers falling out of the playoffs eliminates everyone associated with that organization from contention. Attempting to put basketball out of mind for a bit, I'm shifting my view to the diamond and a Phillies squad that's won its last two series. It's not surprising that the dude behind this Phillies resurgence is the player who won the National League MVP award in 2021: Bryce Harper.

As a reminder...

Every Monday going forward, I'll pick a Philly sports figure who "won" the previous week. What's the credential for winning? Well, it's ultra-subjective...

My qualifications are as follows:

You're Just Mashing It 🐌

Harper's stat line over the last week: Six games (Phillies 5-1 in those six), 14-for-23 at the plate, eight runs, six doubles, three homers, eight RBI, three walks (including one intentionally). 

As I wrote in my Phillies' series recap following the team's four-game set with the Dodgers:

No player in the National League has more total bases this season than Harper's 83. That UCL injury may prevent Bryce from playing the field, but he's still crushing it at the plate. His nine homers are tied for the NL lead. His slugging percentage of .634 leads everyone in baseball besides that one guy from Millville, New Jersey. That's higher than it was during his MVP campaign in 2021. 

He's playing like an MVP once more. Harper got the day off on Sunday, but in the three games he played in L.A., he went 7-for-12, hit four doubles, smacked two homers, scored five runs, drove in eight runs and walked twice. SHEESH. The Phillies haven't a player win back-to-back MVP awards since Michael Jack Schmidt in 1980 and 1981. It's doable for Harper in 2022 if the Phils can find their way to the postseason. 

If the Phillies are going to end their 11-year playoff drought, it's going to be because Harper is hitting like this. If that's the case, he has to be NL MVP again.

Elite Pandering 😍

No one knows how to play a Philly crowd quite like Harper:

Grit Level 💯

Harper suffered a partial UCL tear on April 11. That elbow injury has kept him out of the field, relegating him to the designated hitter spot, since April 16. From April 17 onward (25 games), Harper has a batting average of .354, an on-base percentage of .383 and a slugging percentage of .727. Those are BALCO-era Barry Bonds numbers. He's doing this without the strength to even throw a baseball! It has to affect his swing to some degree, but Harper looks as a healthy as ever when he's in the batter box right now. 

Song of the Summer 🎧

The summer has been a dead period for Philly sports for more than a decade. The Eagles have injected themselves into every fiber of this city, but, at least, things cool off a tad in the summer. Another second-round burnout leaves the Sixers as punching bags, failing to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the 21st-straight season. The Flyers? The Orange and Black making 16 playoffs appearances across 17 seasons from 1995 to 2012, including two Stanley Cup Finals berths, might as well be 50 years ago in the quick-moving world of professional sports.

Good baseball can be that panacea. It's the thing that makes weekends at the Shore or lazy Wednesday nights so refreshing in June and July. Whether a Phillies fan is outside sitting on the deck listening to the radio or hanging out on their couch, a baseball squad that's just entertaining enough to hang around in contention is desperately needed in Philadelphia. 

Phillies fans got a slight taste of it last summer, particularly following their three-game home sweep of the Mets in August, but the 2021 Phils didn't end that National League-leading playoff drought that looms so large over this franchise.

While I like to joke that "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls has been the Song of the Summer for 25-consecutive summers, that violent swing from Harper and the way the ball cracks off it could overtake that '90s pop-rock hit for me in 2022.

Runner-up: Jean Segura 🔥

Jean Segura's numbers in six games over the last week: batting average of .409, on-base percentage of .480 and slugging percentage of .868. He looks like juiced up 2001 Brett Boone at second. I made the case on Monday that he should warrant All-Star consideration this season too.

Who Lost the Week: All of the Sixers 🤮

All of them. The players. The coaches. The front office. The owners. All of them.

Last week's winner: Joel Embiid.

Who Won the Week 2022 Tally:

Tyrese Maxey: 1

Tobias Harris: 1

Howie Roseman: 1

Joel Embiid: 1

Bryce Harper: 1

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