This is not what baseball fans expected, especially those in Philadelphia. When the Phillies broke the bank and doled out a 13-year, $330 million contract for Bryce Harper, the expectation was that his numbers would go up and they'd be one of the favorites in the National League.
Past the halfway mark, that has not been the case.
Harper still has respectable numbers. He's still getting on base (.371 on-base percentage) and has 16 home runs and 61 RBI, but the strikeouts are way up (102 in 318 at-bats) and he's just not carrying what is a middling offense.
However, despite Harper not putting up MVP numbers and missing out on the All-Star team, to simply put the third-place Phillies' problems all on his shoulders is wrong and missing the point.
Is it Harper's fault that the pitching staff ranks 19th with a 4.69 ERA, including a bullpen that owns a 4.90 ERA? Nope. Now, he does have a lot responsibility on the teams mediocre offense, and he's not a stud defensively, but you don't build a good team around one player.
The problem with this team is nobody is stepping up, especially once Andrew McCutchen went down. This team lacks depth in every area, and when you have ownership that talks about spending "stupid money," that shouldn't be a problem.
When you look at the rotation, not a single arm outside of Aaron Nola is reliable once every fifth day, and Nola hasn't pitched to his capability until his last three starts. Oh, and their bullpen is one of the worst in baseball.
It's easy to blame Harper for all the Phillies' problems, and he's not blameless especially when comes to leadership and other intangibles, but it's time that you point the finger at the Philly front office for not filling this roster out correctly, and the likes of Jake Arrieta and Maikel Franco for vastly underachieving.
Unlike the NBA, you need a total team effort to win in baseball. One player does not dictate success. Mike Trout is the best player in the game, and he's made the playoffs one time in his career and they were swept in the ALDS.
Harper hasn't put Philly over the top like everyone thought, but he's not the only problem in the City of Brotherly Love.