The Phillies are likely to be without Bryce Harper for most of the first half of this season. The two-time MVP continues to rehab from last November’s Tommy John surgery. His recovery timetable isn’t entirely clear, though it seems he’s likely to be on the injured list at least until well into May.
Because the surgery was on Harper’s throwing elbow, his hitting is further along than his defense. He’s already progressed to taking batting practice but hasn’t been cleared to throw. Harper is certain to return as a designated hitter before he can play defense but the Phils are considering one course of action that potentially could allow him to don a glove sooner than anticipated.
Matt Gelb of the Athletic reports that Harper is preparing to work at first base. The primary benefit is that it may expedite his ability to take the field by reducing the amount of stress he’ll put on his throwing arm. Corner outfield work involves more high-effort throws than Harper would have to make at first base. He wouldn’t be able to entirely avoid throwing at any position, of course, but there’d be a lower frequency and reduced intensity on most throws Harper would have to make compared to the outfield.
Some increased flexibility from Harper could also address a position that has surprisingly become a weak point in the Philadelphia lineup. The Phils lost Rhys Hoskins for what appears to be the entire season after a Spring Training ACL tear. Darick Hall, Hoskins’ replacement, tore a ligament in his right thumb last week. He underwent surgery this morning, with the Phils estimating a two-month recovery timetable. That pushed utility player Kody Clemens into the lion’s share of first base reps, with Alec Bohm expected to take some playing time against left-handed pitching.
Harper has logged one third of an inning at first base in his MLB career. He’s otherwise exclusively been an outfielder as a professional. There’s risk of growing pains with any player moving to a position with which he’s completely unfamiliar, though it’s hardly uncommon for outfielders to factor in at first base on occasion. Harper has been taking some ground balls — without making overhand throws — in recent days, Gelb notes.
Regardless of how well he takes to drills, he’ll return to the lineup as a DH before he’s cleared to defend. If he’s able to factor in at first base closer to the All-Star Break (before he’d theoretically be able to play the outfield), that’d afford the front office and coaching staff some flexibility. While Harper’s at DH, the Phils are set to pencil in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos into the corner outfield positions regularly. Barring a breakout from Clemens, they’d perhaps have perhaps been looking to the trade market for first base help.
If Harper covers that position and vacates the DH spot for one of Schwarber or Castellanos, the Phils could broaden their search for outfield upgrades. Vacating DH would also allow manager Rob Thomson more freedom to rotate regulars through the position as quasi-rest days. It’s to be determined whether Harper will find success in that role, but the seven-time All-Star is going to try to expand his defensive flexibility over the coming weeks.
Cool. Can we ditch Kimbrel too? What a bad signing. I’m also sick of the Phillies horrific starts, followed by amazing winning streaks, followed an exhausted finish where they win around 85 games.
Shut up dude. Take a night off of commenting.
These situations are the reason fans shouldn’t ever want your team to sign guy to 8,9,10 year deals. Inevitably the player gets hurt and some portion of their game doesn’t return post injury. Harper could possibly have to move to 1st base permanently. Now there’s probably a bunch of people reading this saying so what he’s a great hitter. They didn’t pay him to be a 1b/dh type. That guy in today’s baseball isn’t worth very much. If you need evidence of that check the free agent list every year.
It’s all built in to the AAV. Deferrals and overall AAV allow for injuries to be built in to many deals. Us fans only look at the gross and the Bogarts contract with SD to me reflects what happens if you let a player leave. Not many expected a deal like he got. Reminds me of the old AAMCO commercial. Pay them now or pay (more) later. it’s a balancing act because yes you can pay the wrong player. The Chris Sale deal at that time was plain stupid.
@Iver, there is zero chance Harper is nowhere near the point they would consider a permanent move to 1B. This is just a move to let his arm rest as long as possible especially with Hoskins out. You point out his longterm deal, this is exactly how a club should b looking out for such a player. Gives them option to use him other than DH with minimal aggressive throwing. With his athleticism he d likely b a plus defender at 1B as well. Defense has not been PHI hallmark, so this would not only gain his bat but help them in field where they ve been weak.
Meanwhile, the reigning NL MVP is Paul Goldscmidt, a first baseman.
Just because your athletic doesn’t mean that translates to playing well defensively.
No athleticism alone does not translate to being better defensively. It by all means helps. Harper was not a bad outfielder and regularly plus DRS. He ll likely do quite well filling in at 1st this season.
Nah but he valid for what he said tho
I second that
Don’t tell people what to do, punk.
He has replaced Trout as the best and most valuable player in baseball, with Trout hovering around #5 now.
Love Bryce, but it’s Ohtani by a mile.
Actually true, Bryce is #2.
Dr. Chim Richalds
No sense replying to Ace. He is a gigantic turd. Probably a record breaker on the couric scale.
Wrote in the 2021-22 offseason that Harper playing 1B would be best for both the Phillies and for him.
He’s an intense player and the team leader. He’d be in the game on every pitch, not standing out in RF. It would be good for the pitchers and infielders to see him before every pitch. When played correctly 1B is a difficult position to play, and one that can impact a defense for the good. If he tries this there’s a good chance it becomes permanent after his arm is back.
Let’s hear more about him playing 1/3 of an inning at first base. Circumstances?
I was curious about this as well… He’s actually played in 2 games at first base but only 1/3 of an inning. Once in 2018 with the Nats and once in 2021 with the Phils. Odd
I think it has to be situations in the 9th or extras and he was brought in as the 5th infielder
That would make sense!
This is what I got from the box scores. One of the games (Nats’/Marlins), went 10, but Harper played the whole game starting in RF. Ryan Zimmerman started at 1B, but was pinch hit for by Matt Reynolds. Mark Reynolds started at 3B, but Matt Reynolds stayed in to play third with Mark Reynolds moving to 1B. For some reason Mark Reynolds was later moved to RF, sending Harper to 1B. The Nats’ used 3 pinch-hitters, and 3 relievers which probably accounts for the musical chairs, which probably made sense at the time.
The other game (Phils/Braves), which went 12 innings, makes no sense to me. Harper started in RF, moved to 1B, without an out recorded, then moved back to RF. Alec Boehm started at 3B, moved to 1B, then back to 3B, finishing the game at 1B. Andrew Knapp pinch hit and also stayed in to play 1B. And Scott Kingery also played 3B, moved to RF and then back to 3B. Maybe if I thought about it enough it might make sense, but I’m not going to make the effort.
I remember the Phillies game, it was very chaotic, as they had Knapp, Bohm and Harper all play 1°B in the same inning. I don’t know/remember what the strategic thinking was, if there was any, but it was weird.
The guy was a catcher in high school, he’s an incredible athlete and has a great baseball mind. Numerous players and hall of famers have made the move from OF to 1B without issue, Harper will be solid on 1B.
Not a bad idea. If he’s even remotely decent it would keep the Phillies from having to spend prospect capital on a rental First Baseman
Yes, I agree plus Bryce vacating DH will allow Castellanos or Schwarber to get DH time.
In what circumstances, if any, can a batter’s OBP be lower than his BA ???
My guess is this can occur, albeit very rarely, because sacrifice flies count against on-base% but not batting average.
What he said.
and sac bunts
Happens quite often, especially early in the season.
Is there some reason they aren’t considering either Schwarber or Castellanos at 1B? Castellanos used to play 3B and I would think he could handle it. Schwarber has 11 games at 1B. Neither are exactly plus defenders in the OF.
Castellanos is bad defensively no matter where you put him.
Castellanos was a disaster at 3B which is why the Tigers moved him to the OF.
Contrary to popular myth – 1B is a far more difficult position to play than 3B. To start with the 3B handles the ball more that any player other then the P and C. No team wants Castellanos doing that.
Should be – the 1B – handles the ball more that any player other then the P and C.
I suggest you Google “defensive spectrum”.
Yeah but most of those times they have to play the ball is when their teammates are throwing to them at the optimal position to catch it. 3rd baseman have to field alot more sharply hit balls coming at them in ways thay would rarely be described as optimal for getting your glove on it. Throwing to first on the run on bunt attempts as well as swinging bunts are very tricky plays as well.
You see players moved off 3rd to first all the time, but almost never the other way around.
3B’s take hot shots from RH hitters. 1B’s take hot shots from LH hitters. Both charge on bunts.
The 1B takes pick-off throws (he has to know how each pitcher tends to throw over). He has to jump off the base when holding a runner on to get into position if the balls hit to him. The 3B just positions himself around 3B.
1B’s have to pick-up bad throws from the other infielders and pitchers, 3B’s don’t. Contrary to what you see on TV or in most seats at the park – infielders and pitchers throws don’t go in a straight line. They curve, drop, sail, etc. Many SS’s are now bouncing the ball to 1B on throws from the hole, the 1B must read the spin because the balls do not always bounce cleanly.
3B’s may start a double play on a grounder by stepping on the bag or throwing to 2B with no distraction. 1B’s have to start a double play on a grounder after popping off of 1B from holding the runner on, deciding if the want to tag 1B and then find a lane to throw to 2B, or usually moving towards home plate a step or two, throw to 2B, then hustle back to the 1B bag for a return throw.
The 1B is a cut-off man on throws to the plate from RF as well as on throws from CF and LF between the pitchers mound and the plate and decides to cut the ball off and may make a throw to another base or let the ball go to the catcher. The 3B simply stands on 3B in case a runner attempts to go there.
On all ground outs t0 1B with a runner on base the 1B must be ready to throw the ball to any of the other 3 bases if the runner either rounds 2nd or 3rd too far, or elects to take another base. This is why LH throwing 1B’s are preferred as they can throw the ball across their body whereas a RH 1B must make a pivot. The Angels lost a game the other night because Brandon Drury did what you said, he caught the ball at 1B on a close play. He looked at the umpire that called the runner safe and held onto the ball. Meanwhile Dominick Smith of the Nationals that had been on 2nd rounded 3rd and scored the go ahead run while Drury was giving the ump the snake eye.
Vlad was a mess at 3rd base, but after switching to 1st he won a gold glove. If 3rd is easier why move him? The fact is teams put their more athletically gifted players at 3rd over 1st for a reason. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that since mlb teams (who know more about it than you or I) move struggling 3rd basemen over to 1st regularly but never put struggling 1st basemen at 3rd probably means 3rd is harder.
None of this is to suggest 1B is easy. I get what you are saying, but 3rd baseman have to throw accurately across the diamond on nearly every play they make and constantly have to make plays with little to no room for error in order to get the runner. While first baseman do have to field bunts and deal with similary batted balls those plays generally end with an underhanded shovel over to the pitcher. Third baseman on the other hand have to set themselves very quickly and throw accurately across the diamond making the play significantly more difficult.
There is a reason they call 3rd the hot corner and 1B the cold corner (3rd also gets more sharply batted balls due to there being more right-handed batters in mlb).
Schwarber played some at first for the Red Sox, and the results weren’t a positive.
Beyond that, one of the few positives to Schwarber in the field is his plus arm, and that would mostly be lost at first.
Wasn’t Harper originally drafted as a catcher then moved to the outfield permanently after he was drafted? I know that was a long time ago, but at least he’s not wholly unfamiliar with the infield.
Mlb1225 is correct
This is stupid. Teach Schwarber or Castellanos to play first. Harper should never throw a baseball this season.
The Phillies have utility IFs who are significantly better than Schwarber and Castellanos at first
Whoever, whichever bat you want to keep in the lineup.. Just don’t ask Harper to throw a baseball this calendar year.
The Red Sox tried that with Schwarber in 2021 and it didn’t go so well from what I remember. I guess given Castellanos’ past as a thrid baseman, he could conceviably play some first base, but he hasn’t suited up for a game in the infield since 2017. The time for either of Schwarber or Castellanos to learn to play a competent first base likely has long since passed.
Sure neither would be ideal first basemen. But also… I doubt Harper would either. And they’re both far from ideal outfielders.
Like if you’re already DHing one and playing one at 1B, why would Harper with no experience there (and unable to make throws) be better than Schwarber or Castellanos.
And he might not. But he has the time and willingness so might as well learn what he can in case needed in next 10 years.
Castellanos is ass defensively. Doesn’t matter where you put him. The proof is in the pudding, time and time again
For the Phillies & Mets, apparently money can’t buy everything.
Mets are doing fine. Phillies always start off badly. I’m definitely worried about the Phils, but Mets are a contender.
VonPurpleHaye, If I was a Phillies fan, I’d probably be worried too. But as an outside observer, it’s way too earlier to think they’re in any real trouble. I think they’ll be fine. Given the NLE, I wouldn’t guarantee a playoff slot, but there’s too much talent for them not to make things interesting.
Yeah. It’s just more annoying than anything else. Lots of silly mistakes costing them games they should’ve won. And quite a few clunkers that they had no chance in. They’ll get back on track, but in a tough division it may be too late.
Yeah, I get it. The teams we root for are always under more scrutiny. But silly mistakes aren’t rare this early in the season for any team, except for maybe the Rays. But when potential playoff teams, Astros (5-7), Cards (4-7), and Dodgers (6-6) are looking more average than great, it’s important to remember it’s early.
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
C’mon, Von. It’s only April 13th and you say it may be too late? Both the Mets and Braves have suffered injuries to important players. And I’m not gonna discount the effect losing two team leaders like Freddie and Dansby is gonna have on the Braves. The Mets? If there’s one team where Mr. Injury Bug has his own locker in the clubhouse, it’s the Mets.
Both the Mets and Braves may have more potential all-star players than our Phillies, we’re pretty darn good. Gotta tighten up on the stuff that’s costing us games. If there’s one area that concerns me, and it seems it’s been a problem for the past five years, it’s our bullpen.
However, I have confidence Dombro can make a deal or two to address those problems. Sure would like to get that guy Bednar from the Pirates to be our closer.
They’re currently 4 games under .500. If they fall to 10 under .500, I don’t care how early it is, they won’t be catching the division leader. This is a tough division with 3 World Series hopefuls. Play like this is going to hurt you later in the season. It’s not too late now, but they need to start winning.
Kimbrel has given up a run in every appearance but one. Philly Rob needs to stop using him so frequently. He isn’t good anymore.
The Mets are a .500 team…don’t worry about them. They have issues all over the place. It may be hard to catch the Braves but I see the Philies as a solid 2nd place team in the NLE and likely playoff contender. Don’t fret VonPurple, things will work out.
It can if you spend enough. 250 350 isn’t enough.
Maybe move him to Catcher since that’s what he was originally anyway.
That Realmuto guy ain’t no good.
Realmuto is 32 and can fall off a cliff at any time- trade him, get rid of him if that means a better spot for Bryce. Realmuto isn’t even close to as important as Bryce.
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
Read the directions, especially dosage, on your meds. I think, with that last post, you took too many or too little.
And 32 as a Catcher is around the equivalent of 35 as a corner OF because of how physically difficult it is.
Also, Realmuto originally arrived to PH in a trade- didn’t choose to go to PH at first. Bryce chose 100% to go to PH- big difference. And it was a very unfair trade and he should still be a Marlin.
Catchers definitely don’t need to throw hard or anything so elbow should be fine.
Probably not a bad idea since Philly appears a little short at the position.
Can someone please reference the Moneyball Hatteberg Billy Beane Ron Washington scene about the difficulty of playing first base???? We are slacking, guys!
That comes up here every time people write about playing 1B here.
But it does bring up a point…..
Billy Beane is a legend. A combination of Hollywood and people that grew up playing baseball on a computer and with spreadsheets see him that way. But the reality is this….
Since the Beane legend grew in the late 90’s, his Oakland A’s have won ONE playoff series. There are cash strapped small market teams that went to and won the World Series. The Rays have a system that has kept them in contention for most of the past 10 years in spite of having the lowest payroll in MLB most of those years. While Beane stopped making trades and personnel decisions years ago, the people he hired and trained are doing poorly. The trades they made in this latest cycle rebuild are looking to be poor, and while I believe some of those players ultimately will be successful in the next few years, the current A’s are hardly a team to be feared in the NL West over the next 5 years. The only thing they have going for them is a move to Las Vegas where they’ll have more money to work with. But the Raiders did that and they still suck.
None of those guys can play 1b. You’re going to have to teach one of them.
No need for that. Didn’t you see Harper has that 1/3 of a inning there? He’s good to go!
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
“First base is hard. Very hard!”.
Good news. The sport is better when the best players are healthy and playing.
I honestly think this would be a great move for his career in general. His OF defense is ok but certainly nothing special. I believe with his catching background and athleticism, he could be a very good, maybe even borderline GG, first baseman.
Bryce is athletic enough to play first. I think he can handle the position. To be honest he would definitely be an upgrade over Rhys defensively.
That is his natural position. Not sure why he has been in the OF for so long in his career. A -4.8 dWAR in the outfield. I hope he can turn that around at 1B.
He played catcher for the majority of his life I believe…:all the way up until he got drafted. I think they figured he was such a good athlete and the bat was so strong; that why not just move him out there
He got drafted 13 years ago., and hasn’t played a single game at catcher in professional baseball. Catchers need more time in the minors, and that’s reflected in the fact that the average age for catchers to debut is higher than for any other position. Asking Harper to catch when he hasn’t done so since high school is a recipe for disaster. Especially when 1B is the solution to gettining him in the game without him having to throw.
Wait, was your post satire?
Oh I wasn’t suggesting that he should move to catcher whatsoever. Merely pointing out; that he wasn’t originally an outfielder in the first place, and just a little tidbit about him that I remember.
I think the move to first could work out well for all parties!
“Why are we still here, just to suffer?” – Edmundo Sosa
Do we really need to give players rest days this early in the season? DH him and don’t risk him getting reinjured.
Sounds like the Phillies are getting desperate already. Why not just swing a early season trade for a good bat that preferably plays 1st base. It doesn’t seem wise to rush Harper back early.
Like who? How many teams have a surplus of good bats that can play 1B? If there is, think the Phillies would be the only team interested? And, if it’s a quality bat the Phils will have to give up quality to make it worthwhile for the other team. I have to believe that Harper at 1B, even if he can only lob the ball back, is still going to be a far better bat than anyone else available.
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
I think Eric Hosmer would be a good stop gap at 1B for us. Makes a lot of contact, albeit too much of it on the ground. The anti-shift rules should allow a fair number of his groundballs to find green grass instead of brown leather.
Plus, he’s as cheap as cheap can be (Padres are still paying 99% of his cheese.) and you could probably get him for the proverbial song. Besides, he’s just keeping 1B warm for Mervis.
I think I’d still rather have Harper at 1B if he is healthy enough to do it.
Good grief. Hosmer sucks sour buttermilk.
How about Daniel Vogelbach? The Mets may be willing to part with him. .885 OPS vs. RHP, 150 OPS+
If Vogelfat hit his weight, he’d be a hall of famer.
Can someone jump in a delorean and go back in time to when cashman said “we have too many outfielders to be interested in Harper and he’s not a first baseman.”
5 successive years of “too many” outfielders (had to trade for two last year) and we are still playing hicks, calhoun and Cordero regularly in the OF.
Oh and 1B – we have a pretty good one now – but that was a revolving door as well and we had to once again – trade for him.
Was there any point to that babblefest?
Hey!! Phillies won it all in 1980 with Pete Rose at first!!
If the Phils are to factor at the end of the year, it would have to be with Bryce in the lineup.
Oh my. What would they ever do with a Rhys Hoskins returning in September to take a roster spot off of somebody who has been there all year. Bravo Bryce.
Phils are getting pantsed by the Reds. One might say they’re Red-faced. Thoughts?