Phillies reddit is a weird place. Everyone in there is the biggest ball washer you’ll ever meet. The Phillies are the greatest organization on the planet and Chase Utley is better than Bonds. Just bizarre takes like that everywhere. But even knowing this I was shocked and I mean SHOCKED when I saw a post in there titled: “Is Bryce Harper As Good As Ken Griffey Jr?” I mean what a stupid question. The answer is a big fat no. And it isn’t even close. But of course some dumb dumb went on an entire rant for why Bryce is close.
Phillies Reddit User: “So no… But it’s not as no as you’d think.
Griffey finished his career with 83.8 rWar and Bryce currently stands at 31.8., Trout is already at 72.8 for reference. From age 20-30 Griffey produced 9 5+ rWar seasons. Bryce has 2, and is will turn 28 with little hope of adding a 3rd this season.
So to date, it’s not particularly close. That said, while Griffey was one of the best players of all time in his 20’s, injuries and age didn’t let him stay at that level into his 30s. After age 32 he only had 1 season above replacement level, and 3 years of negative rWar.
The question is really what would Bryce need to do to get to Griffey’s level and does he have a realistic shot at doing it? If we look at their peaks, you can see the talent is definitely there.
Bryce MVP season was good for a 198 OPS+ and 9.7 rWar
Griffey’s top season he only posted a 165 OPS+ but because of his stellar defense was also able to accumulate 9.7 rWar.
That defensive advantage completely evaporated and Griffey became a defensive liability basically from his age 28 season to the end of his career.
Defense is tricky because there isn’t really a consensus best way to evaluate it’s true value. Fangraphs even has Bryce at 4 War higher and Griffey 7 War lower because they value defense differently then baseball reference.
Offensively the talent is there and Bryce had a much higher peak, albeit he’s yet to come close to those peak numbers again. Still for his career Bryce has a 137 OPS+ to Griffeys 136 so he would only need a few more years like 2017 to balance out any late career struggles and still finish ahead of Jr.
Can Bryce return to MVP or even 2017 form? Will he stay healthy? No way to be sure, but if he averages 3.6 fWar over the rest of his contract (which would be .8 less then his yearly average so far) he’ll have Griffey’s output, if not impact.”
That’s all fine and dandy but the fact of the matter is total overall WAR doesn’t mean he’s a better player or even on the same level. I love Bryce, glad the Phillies got him and I’m irrationally angry we are missing a year of him this season. Griffey has better numbers across the board and if you’re only comparing their first 8 seasons it’s even more of a telling story. In Griffey’s doesn’t even hit his peak until year 9-11. In that three year stretch he hits 160 homers, 427 RBIs and bats .291. Does anyone realistically think Bryce is going to average 53 bombs, 142 RBIs and bat nearly 20 points higher than his career average over the next three years?
In short, no. He’s going to be a beast but those numbers are bananas. And remember even if he did do that, he’d still be chasing Griffey’s numbers. Simply put, Jr. was one of the greatest to ever play the game. Does Harper have the chance to be a HoFer? Yeah for sure. But to try and make the case he’s close to Griffey is just flat out silly.