The Philadelphia Phillies own a 3.5-game lead in the National League East, though their $330 million star hasn’t exactly dominated.
Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper is tied for the sixth-highest strikeout rate (31.0 percent) in baseball, contributing to his lowly .243 batting average through 55 games. In his first seven major league seasons with the Washington Nationals, Harper hit .279 with an average strikeout rate of 21.1 percent.
On the flip side, Harper has amassed the fifth-highest walk rate (15.3 percent) and 10th-most RBIs (40) in the National League.
On the latest edition of “Big Time Baseball: Players Edition,” RADIO.COM Sports insiders Ben Davis and Tony Gwynn Jr. dissected what’s plagued Harper in the first couple of months with his new ballclub.
“There were three things (Tony Gwynn) always said (when we played together)," Davis said, referring to his co-host's father, the late, legendary San Diego Padres outfielder. "Get in your stance, get your foot down and take the knob of the bat to the ball. First and foremost, I don’t see him (Harper) getting his foot down all the time, and over 50 percent of these strikeouts are on fastballs.
“If you don’t get your foot down, there’s no way you can get to the baseball. You’re gonna be late.”
They also discussed the inconsistent play of Manny Machado, this offseason’s other blockbuster free agent, with the Padres. Machado is hitting .264 with a .783 OPS and nine home runs.
"It's just different to me when you watch Bryce and Manny: Manny is getting his hits," Gwynn said. "We just haven't seen consistent flow, like I think he's had in those big-time Oriole years when he was that way. ... He just hasn't gotten into that hot spot, but you can see glimpses of it."
They closed with a classic debate: Is Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia -- who might step away from the game due to persistent knee pain -- a Hall of Famer?