Bryce Harper's strikeout-filled prolonged slump has soured the start of his Phillies career

It appears that the Phillies honeymoon phrase with Bryce Harper is officially over. After kicking off his time with the Phillies in which Harper did, said and wore everything to win over the hearts of Philadelphia, fans have begun to grow impatient with his recent struggles at the plate.

Harper had a great diving catch to keep the game tied in the Phillies win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday (PHI 7, MIL 4), but Harper still is frustrating some fans with his nonexistent production at the plate. He struck out three times, and was the only Phillies starting position player without a hit on Monday. Harper's three-strikeout night was his 19th game this season with multiple strikeouts. No other MLB player has more than 16 so far this season.

Here's a look at Harper's numbers through the first quarter of his first of 13 years in his new contract:

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Bryce Harper PHI • RF • 3
BA.222
R25
HR7
RBI25
SB1

This is clearly not the offensive production that the Phillies paid a then-record $330 million for this offseason. Harper looked great through his first five games in a Phillies uniform, slashing .500/.652/1.188 with three home runs, five RBI and just five strikeouts versus seven walks. But the All-Star outfielder has been in an offensive decline since, compiling 39 strikeouts and just 19 hits in the team's previous month of play (April 13-May 13).

As MLB.com's Sarah Langs notes, Harper has had his worst batting average (.222) through 40 games as well as his highest strikeout total (54, tied for most in MLB) through 40 games. To Harper's credit, his 31 walks lead the National League.

Right now, however, Harper's strikeout percentage is up while his contact percentage is down compared to last season. According to Fangraphs, Harper's 2019 season strikeout percentage is at 30.5 percent, compared to 24.3 percent from 2018, and his contact percentage is at 48 percent, compared to 55.4 percent from 2018. 

This slump is something Harper is prone to do, and he had been a hot-and-cold player pretty much the whole time during his career with the Washington Nationals. Plus, even after Harper's hot start to the season, he's shown fans glimmers of hope when it comes to his bat, like his grand slam on May 7 and his career-high five hit game on April 19. He's bound to break out of this cold stretch soon enough, and the good thing is that the first-place Phillies are still winning thanks to an extremely deep lineup and strong pitching.

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