That was some comeback.
After fracturing his left thumb last season, Bryce Harper underwent surgery and had three pins inserted. By the end of the season, Harper had led the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series and was named the MVP of the National League Championship Series.
What a comeback.
That wasn’t even his best.
Harper underwent Tommy John surgery on November 23rd. It usually takes pitchers at least a full calendar year to return. Harper was back in 160 days.
The Phillies lost 13-1 to the Dodgers and Harper went 0-for-4 but 160 days? C’mon man.
“Not the game we wanted to have, right?” Harper told reporters.
“Granted, I’m excited to be back. Going through six months of grinding and hard work, to be able to get back today, I was extremely excited. I want the results to be better.”
Likely, they will. Harper, who spent his first seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, is a two-time MVP and signed a 13-year, $330 million free agent deal with the Phillies on March 2, 2019. His first at-bat with his new team? A 465-foot shot.
Instant Philly phan (fan) favorite.
This comeback will only endear Harper to Phillies fans – regarded as the toughest in sports – even more.
The Phillies were 15-16 after Harper’s return but only 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East, regarded as the toughest division in the National League. Their MVP and big bat are back.
Harper +2500 For MVP Might Be a Steal
Harper is +2500 to win MVP because he missed the first six weeks of the season. It’s an attractive play. He his his first home run on May 6. Look out baseball!
Harper is restricted to being the team’s DH. If he was a pitcher, this comeback would have been impossible. But according to published reports, Harper told his agent, Scott Boras that he was targeting the May 1-3 series against the Dodgers as his comeback target.
“I said, ‘Do not say that to anybody,’” Boras told reporters. “I go, ‘You have super healing qualities, I agree. You’re elite, you’re exceptional, you’re a centurion. I get all that. The fact is, this is an eight-month thing.’”
He’s a Centurion
It usually is but Harper is, well, a centurion. The 160 days it took him to return marks the fastest recovery in baseball history. He’s been making history his entire career.
Harper, then 19, won Rookie of the Year in 2012. He and former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden were the youngest ever to win that honor. Trout became he became the youngest player ever (22) to win league MVP when he did so in 2015.
Comparisons to Mike Trout
But what has happened over the last few years is truly remarkable. Harper and Angels star Mike Trout have been and will be forever linked. Trout won American League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the comparisons began.
Trout came across as humble and hardworking. Harper came across as a cocky and fiery. Was it fair? Probably not, but perception is the hardest thing to change. And Harper is changing that.
Yes, he still plays with a ton of emotion. But his willingness and ability to play through pain, to recover from injury has transformed Harper’s image to one of a driven, dedicated professional.
If he leads the Phillies to a playoff berth, no less a National League East Division title, Harper could be the most famous character to come out of Philadelphia since Rocky.