The Philadelphia Phillies, who have been in something of a funk recently, are trying something different with their lineup and Bryce Harper.
In Thursday’s game against the Nationals, Harper will lead off. This is the first time he’s done so as a member of the Phillies.
It stands to reason that Philadelphia would try to do something new. The Phillies have lost five of their last six games. They scored two or fewer runs in four of those losses.
Harper has taken 218 of his 267 at-bats on the season from the No. 3 spot. All but one of the remaining at-bats was as the No. 2 hitter.
While this will be Harper’s first time leading off for Philadelphia, he’s not entirely new to the position. Harper batted first 28 times with the Nationals. In those games, he amassed a .273/.362/.573 slash line with eight home runs.
The obvious disadvantage of batting first is that it decreases the chances of Harper hitting with men on base. Given his power, that’s not insignificant.
On the other hand, it also increases the chance for more plate appearances. Additionally, Harper sports a solid .360 OBP in 2019. For an offense struggling to get anything going, having a reliable on-base man at the top of the order could be a nice boost.