The Philadelphia Phillies are off to a great start to the 2019 season. Unfortunately, their newest investment in Bryce Harper has yet to pay dividends.
After signing the 26-year-old to a massive 13-year, $330 million deal this offseason, both management and the Phils’ faithful have enormous expectations for Harper. That includes this year.
Although the season is still very young, Harper isn’t quite living up to the hype that has surrounded the star since he entered the league in 2012.
Despite Harper beginning the year slowly, Pennsylvania sportsbooks have been active with plenty of bets for the hometown team. The Phillies have a tremendous 15-7 home record and have jumped out to a 3.5-game lead in the National League East.
If the Phillies can continue their play of late, the Philadelphia sports betting market will reach new heights. This will especially be the case if their new slugger can get back into form.
Bryce Harper’s early struggles
After a few games, Harper appeared ready to chalk up a career year statistically. Through the first four, Bryce had already hit three home runs and had 5 RBIs as the Phils were victorious in each of the matchups.
That’s pretty much when the good news stopped.
Since April 3, Harper has accounted for only four homers and 20 RBIs. That is simply not going to cut it when you’re one of the top paid baseball players in the league.
Beyond the power numbers, Harper is struggling to hit for average, too. He’s batting just .222 with a .367 on-base percentage. Even though he’s been able to work some walks in the Phillies deep lineup, Harper is being paid to hit and drive in runs.
The lowest average he’s ever had as a big leaguer was in 2016 when he hit .243. Right now he would take that batting average in a heartbeat.
Can’t get much worse, or can it?
If you think that this tough start will blow over and Harper will get back to his MVP-caliber ways, you might want to hold off for a second. It seems as though things may get worse for the right fielder before they get better.
In May, Harper has just seven hits in 40 at-bats. That is a measly .175 average. If the Phillies fans didn’t have a reason to boo before, they probably do now.
Of the seven hits this month, only one has left the ballpark. Harper finds himself tied for 66th in MLB with his seven dingers to this point.
What makes it even worse for Harper is the rate at which he’s striking out. He’s struck out more than double the amount of hits he has for this month.
In fact, Harper is tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 54 through just 40 games. He has nine and 26 fewer at-bats, respectively than the two players he’s tied with.
Another interesting note is how he’s not playing well in front of his new home fans even though four of his home runs have come at Citizens Bank Park, Harper’s batting just .173 while playing in Philly this year.
This is something that must change moving forward for the Phillies to be considered real contenders to win in 2019.
PA online sports betting
The silver lining for Phillies fans is that their team is playing considerably well in spite of one of their best players doing poorly. If Harper can flip the switch like he does most seasons, Philadelphia could make some real noise in the playoffs this year.
Fans should also be excited about the growth of legal sports gambling. Soon the Keystone State will be joining the mobile world and expand into PA online sports betting.
That means thousands of Phillies fanatics can place sports wagers right on their mobile device while sitting inside of the stadium. With live, in-game betting offered on the majority of online sportsbooks, it will be a fun time to be a sports fan in PA.
Currently, New Jersey sports betting app, DraftKings Sportsbook, has the Phillies at +800 to win the World Series. Philly has the fourth-best odds behind the Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees.
It also lists the Phils as the favorites to win the division title now, at +120.