Here's the biggest, most clutch home run of Bryce Harper's stellar career:
The home run off a 2-2 sinker from lockdown reliever Robert Suarez turned a 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies deficit into a 4-3 lead over the San Diego Padres in the eighth inning of NLCS Game 5. It also put the Phillies, up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, three outs from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 2009 and for just the eighth time in franchise history. They closed things out in the ninth and are headed to the World Series for the first time since 2009. Framed another way, Harper's homer advanced the Phils' chances of winning Game 5 from 40.1 percent to 86.9 percent.
Those circumstances would make it a clutch blast in the middle of June. Given that it happened in a potential pennant-clincher, calling it "clutch" undersells the feat and the moment. The lead that Harper gave them would hold up, and they're now headed to the World Series to face either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees. Harper was named NLCS MVP for his effort.
All of that merits another angle on things:
Harper laid the groundwork for that home run by laying off a 1-2 changeup from Suarez. As he told Ken Rosenthal moments after touching home plate, that had him looking for something hard, and he got it. He also turned it around at 108.9 mph off the bat and sent it 382 feet to the opposite field.
That's in keeping with what Harper's been doing for the entire 2022 postseason. Seemingly fully recovered from the broken thumb that cost him a large chunk of the regular season, Harper has hit safely in all 10 of the Phillies' postseason games, and he came into NLCS Game 5 with a slash line of .410/.439/.872 and four home runs. He adds to that another homer and a single earlier on Sunday.
Regardless of what becomes of the Phillies in the World Series, Harper has authored one of the most memorable moments in Phillies history and one of the biggest home runs in the annals of the MLB postseason.