Bryce Harper delivers for the Phillies
The Phillies are headed back to the World Series for the first time since 2009, and it turns out paying Bryce Harper $330 million was a pretty good investment.
What happened: Harper continued one of the hottest stretches of his career in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Padres, hitting a two-run bomb in the eighth that ultimately stood as the game- and series-winner.
- The Phillies will face the Astros, who are heading to the Fall Classic for the fourth time in six years.
- The Astros are just the third team in the Wild Card era (since 1995) to sweep their way into the World Series. Their last loss came on Oct. 3 — against the Phillies.
By the numbers: After ending the season in a slump, Harper has gone atomic.
- NLCS: 8-for-20 (.400), 2 HR, 3 doubles, 5 RBI, and 4 runs. NLCS MVP.
- Postseason: 18-for-43 (.419), 5 HR, 6 doubles, 11 RBI, 10 runs and a 10-game hit streak.
- Wild stat: His 1.351 OPS so far would be the fourth-highest mark ever in a single postseason (min. 10 games).
What he's saying: "This city, this team … it's all for them," said Harper after the game. "But the job's not done."
The big picture: The Phillies, who only reached the postseason thanks to the expanded format, are tied for the fifth-fewest regular-season wins* among teams who've made the World Series. Three of the previous five won it all.
- 1973 Mets: 82-79 (lost to A's)
- 2006 Cardinals: 83-78 (beat Tigers)
- 1987 Twins: 85-77 (beat Cardinals)
- 1997 Indians: 86-75 (lost to Marlins)
- 2000 Yankees: 87-74 (beat Mets)
- 2022 Phillies: 87-75 (?)
The bottom line: The Phillies were 22-29 when they fired Joe Girardi in early June and replaced him with 59-year-old rookie manager Rob Thomson. Now they're four wins from a championship.
Looking ahead: Game 1 of the World Series is Friday in Houston.
*Not counting the strike-interrupted 1981 season or pandemic-shortened 2020 season.