Bryce Harper seems destined for home run record with new Phanatic-themed bat

Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to win the 'chip in style.

Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Philadelphia Phillies' 2023 campaign was a tale of two halves.

Early in the season, it was bad. Philadelphia didn't remotely look the part of reigning NL champs. Bryce Harper missed time and changed positions. Trea Turner lost all ability to hit. And, to compound the problems, their division foes in Atlanta won a lot of games.

Then, after the All-Star break, the Phils kicked it into high gear. Turner got back on track, with some help from the Philly faithful, and Harper started to truly look himself. At their best, the Phillies can out-hit any team in the league. Few lineups can match their raw power front to back.

Philadelphia was in the NLCS by the end of it. A brutal collapse saw the Arizona Diamondbacks squeak into the World Series, but Philadelphia has been knocking on the door two years in a row. While the Braves and Dodgers have more talent, Philadelphia is the only NL powerhouse of late to actually execute in the postseason.

Expectations are set high in 2024. The Phillies' 2022 World Series run was a pleasant surprise. Last season was confirmation of their excellence. Now, any and all excuses are out the window. Fans will expect the Phillies to be right back in the mix.

It all starts, of course, with Bryce Harper.

The new full-time first baseman is gearing up for the season in style, embracing America's most unique sports town the way only he knows how to.

Bryce Harper shows off Phanatic bat at Phillies media day

We humbly challenge Harper to use this bat during a game. Forget MLB protocols, forget practicality. We all want to see it.

On a more serious note, Harper continues to pander expertly to the Philly fandom. That is a compliment. It doesn't really take much to appease Philadelphia fans, despite their unforgiving reputation. It's a simple playbook — try hard, win games, and play up the blue-collar Philly-ness of it all. Harper has fun with it, and he has relished being in Philadelphia in a way few recent athletes have.

There are a ton of great sports stars in the city. Both Jalen Hurts and Joel Embiid are near the top of their own professions. But, at the end of the day, Harper has separated himself when it comes to Philadelphia sports icons. Few embody the core tenets of that fanbase better than him.

Last season was a challenge for Harper. He only managed 457 at-bats after returning from Tommy John surgery in record time. He got off to a slow start but finished the season slashing .293/.401/.499 with 21 home runs and 72 RBI. He even finished 12th in MVP voting.

Now, with a full season ahead (knock on wood), Harper has a chance to remind the MLB fandom at large just how good he is. The home run record is a stretch, probably. He's not Barry Bonds. But, we should expect Harper to put together a dominant campaign in the batter's box. The Phillies are hungry, and so is he.

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