St. Louis Cardinals: Is Bryce Harper “Overhyped”?

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals runs out a ninth inning double against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals runs out a ninth inning double against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter recent article listed seven overhyped players who will be free agents and likely to be overpaid. Bryce Harper is one of the seven. Is Reuter right in calling the potential target of the St. Louis Cardinals overhyped?

One of the targets for the St. Louis Cardinals this off-season is reportedly Bryce Harper. This is understandable since Harper would seemly fill an offensive void for the team. His power and ability to drive in runs in the middle of the lineup is what many feel the Redbirds need to help reestablish themselves as World Series contenders.

Harper will be expensive for the Cardinals. Depending on who you read or talk to, the deal is likely to cost any team from $300-400 million for at least 10 years. Being just 26, this seems to be a reasonable estimate of the cost to retain Harper’s services.

However, in Joel Reuter’s recent piece on Bleacher Report, he listed Harper as one of seven overhyped players who will be free agents this off-season. Although, Reuter doesn’t give specific numbers in his piece, he says Harper and the other six players will likely be overpaid for their services.

Let’s look at the case for and against for the Cardinals to sign Bryce Harper.

Harper checks all the boxes for the Cards.

The St. Louis Cardinals need a power hitting left handed RBI machine in the middle of the lineup. Bryce Harper has a seven-year 162 game career average of 32 HR, 91 RBI, a .279 BA and a .900 OPS. He has a career WAR of 27.4 and a RAR of 279.

Harper also has the awards on his wall at home to back up his impressive offensive stats. So far in his short career, he has six All-Star appearances, a Silver Slugger award, a Rookie of the Year award and a league MVP.

Although Harper’s post season numbers aren’t quite as impressive as his regular season numbers, he has a .801 OPS with 5 HR and 10 RBI in 19 games. These numbers and awards are all impressive stuff for a guy who has just turned 26. At his age, it would seem Harper has many years left to earn more awards and pad his stats.

So what is Bleacher Reports issue with Bryce Harper?

The Bleacher Report Case

Joel Reuter primary case for Harper being overhyped is his defensive metrics and health. Defensively in 2018, Reuter says, the outfielders metrics are ‘brutal.’  An outfield Rtot of -22 and  Rdrs of -26, makes Jose Martinez‘s same numbers in 2018 of 0 and -6 look like a Gold Glover.

Reuter’s issue about Harper’s health should be noted by anyone wanting to give this Scott Boras client a huge long-term contract. Although Harper played in a 159 games in 2018, he has only played over 140 games in just three of his seven years in the major leagues.

Finally, Reuter brings up his 1.3 WAR in 2018 and lists nine other players on the Washington Nationals who in 2018 had higher WARs. Harper’s .249 BA was the second lowest in his career and his 169 strikeouts were the highest of his career.

Because of these issues, Reuter feels there is a ‘profound risk’ in handing Harper a record-breaking contract.


Bleacher Report brings up some legitimate concerns about signing Bryce Harper to a long-term contract. After all, we are likely talking about a contract in excess of  $350 million. Any major league club should look at the issues BR brings to the table.

However, I feel Reuter unfairly focuses on too much of Harper’s 2018 season. Yes, he might never be a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, but his career defensive metrics are not as bad as his numbers in 2018. His career seven-year in the outfield Rtot is -4 and his Rdrs is 2. Harper’s career right field Rtot is actually a respectable 10.

The health issues should be a concern anytime you ink a player to a 10-year contract, no matter what age. Based on the actual number of games he played over his seven-year career(927), his career average of 26 HR and 74 RBI, makes him look more human. Instead of a 162 games, we are actually looking at 132 or 133 games a year.

Nevertheless, John Mozeliak and the Cardinal front office would be would be guilty of negligence by not reaching out to Bryce Harper. His upside is too impressive not to pursue aggressively.  Players such as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado very rarely come along as free agents while still in their mid twenties.

Some risk will always be involved in signing a free agent such as Harper. The St. Louis Cardinals need a player such as Harper to become champion contenders again. If not Harper or Machado, then who?

Although the farm system seems to have talent, I don’t see a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado coming up. Risk is part of the game the Cardinals need to accept.

Next. Four offseason scenarios for the Cardinals. dark

What are your thoughts. Is Bryce Harper overhyped?  Let us know and thanks for reading.