Over/Under on Bryce Harper home runs set at 36.5 in 2021

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

March 10th, 2021

Is Bryce Howard overrated?

That may seem like a clown question (bro) to some, but I find myself asking it year after year. There’s no doubt the outfielder has a sky-high ceiling. When he’s firing on all cylinders, few players in the game are more exciting to watch. However, one example of why I keep asking that question comes in Harper’s home run over-under total of 36.5 this coming season.

Bryce Harper 2021 Home Run Total

Over 36.5Under 36.5

Harper has only hit more than 35 home runs once in his career

He’s only eclipsed that number once in his career (though he did hit 35 in 2019, his first season with the Phillies after seven with the Washington Nationals). That came in 2015, undoubtedly the finest campaign of his career to date. He led the majors with 42 homers, 118 runs scored, a .460 on-base percentage, and a .649 slugging clip.

Harper's slugging stats are far from elite

The problem is, he hasn’t come close to hitting some of those power numbers since. He’s slugged above .550 just once in five subsequent seasons, and it was when he posted a .595 percentage during an injury-shortened 2017 season. Even during two very productive seasons with Philadelphia in 2019 and 2020, he slugged .510 and .542. Those are far from poor numbers, but they’re not the elite stats you may expect.

For a hitter with his reputation, you can argue he’s actually underachieved at the plate to this point in his career. His career batting average stands at just .276. He’s averaged less than 26 home runs per season, and while his plate discipline has improved considerably from early in his career, he’s still struck out 1,055 times compared to 733 walks.

Heed Harper's history

I don’t want to be overly harsh when it comes to Harper. He’s one of baseball’s few true box office attractions, and when he barrels a ball at full-force, the ball usually leaves the park in a hurry. However, 36.5 home runs just seems too high a total given his history. Everything I see in his career stats tells me to bet the Under, and that’s what I’d advise you to do.