Is Harper worth the money? A look at the numbers one year after signing the deal

Bryce Harper is only 27 years old. It feels like he’s been in the league for so long now and he has. 2020 will be his 9th year in the bigs as he debuted back in 2012 at the age of 19. Last offseason Harper signed a 13-year contract with the Phillies for $330 million dollars. Bryce broke the bank and signed a huge deal but is he worth it?

Even before Harper broke into the league he had enormous expectations on him to be the best player in the league if not the best player of all time. At the age of 16, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and hitting home runs off the back wall of Tropicana Field.

When you place those kinds of expectations on a player it’s nearly impossible for them to follow through. At this point in his career, he isn’t the best player in the league. Does that make him overrated? Only if your expectations for Bryce were to be the best player in all of baseball for his whole career. Who’s to say he doesn’t become the best player in the league this year? I mean he won’t but still, there is nothing that’s stopping him from doing so.

Instead of asking those types of questions we should be asking is Bryce worth the money? The answer to that question right now is no, but he can’t be worth the money when it’s the first year of his lucrative contract. To determine if Bryce is worth the lump sum that the Phillies gave him it’s going to take time. So how good does Bryce have to be for him to be worth the money?

There have been many more impressive studies done than whatever I could come up with when determining the price tag of WAR. So, I used a study done by Five Thirty Eight which you can find here.

The purpose of their study was to determine the value of Mike Trout. They determined that in 2019 a WAR is worth $8 million dollars. In their study they also incorporated a 3% interest increase each season.

I took those numbers from the study and I calculated the value of WAR in the league for each year of his contract adjusted for inflation. I then took his average salary and divided it by the value of WAR. This game me his “necessary” minimum WAR we would need to record to be worth the money. All of those numbers are below.

In 2019 Bryce Harper recorded a 4.6 WAR according to FanGraphs. So, he exceeded his value by over an entire WAR. Based on these measurments I have a very hard time seing him not being worth what he is being paid.

Every year there are always going to be questions as too if Harper is worth the money that he is being paid. Especially since Harper has a tendency to be very inconsistent. Over his career his WAR has been extremely volatile and I’m sure that over the remaining 12 years he is going to have down years. I’m sure he will even have years where he doesn’t record the minimum WAR that he needs to be worth the money. However, over his entire 13 years career I feel confident that Harper will record at least a total 35.76 WAR. That number is the sum of each necessary WAR from 2019 through 2031.

Yes, Harper will be worth the money. That’s the only question that can be answered. Trying to determine if Harper is overrated is a whole other issue. The answer to that question is subjective and there can never be a definite answer. Although, that word will always be attached to Harper. Especially when you land yourself on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of sixteen.