Chicago Cubs

With game-winning grand slam, Bryce Harper comes through in clutch — again — for Phillies

August 16 at 5:58 AMThe towering, game-winning grand slam Bryce Harper smacked Thursday night made for arguably his greatest moment yet as member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

In one sense, that could be seen as a bit of a backhanded compliment for a superstar athlete whose underwhelming numbers in the first season of a 13-year, $330 million contract have prompted some booing and, more ominously, talk of a “ bust ” label.

The home run wasn’t just majestic; it completed a three-game sweep and pulled Philadelphia within a game of Chicago in the race for the final wild-card berth.

That jibed with Harper’s batting average this season in what Baseball Reference has classified as at-bats in high-leverage situations, i.e., when major swings in win probability are at stake.

Whereas Harper’s 2.1 WAR through Wednesday placed him just 143rd among major league players (per ESPN ), his mark of 3.6 in WPA (win probability added, via Baseball Reference ) was good for sixth, behind only Christian Yelich, Mike Trout, Clay Bellinger, Freddie Freeman and Xander Bogaerts.

Then there are the folks at FanGraphs, whose Win Probability chart entering Thursday had Harper second overall in the Clutch category, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt.

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