They have both achieved so much and are among the best outfielders in baseball, but both Harper and Bellinger still have long careers ahead of them. Let’s take a closer look at the Harper vs Bellinger comparison to figure out the better player right now and in the future.
Hit for Average
While Harper has a few more years on Bellinger, he also has a slightly better career batting average, .277 compared to Bellinger’s .273.
He’s also hit over .300 twice during his career while Bellinger has done so just once in his shorter career. However, Harper has been through periods where his strikeout rate has skyrocketed, especially later in his career. Meanwhile, Bellinger’s strikeout rate is more in line with a player with his power. That being said, this is close to a push between the two sluggers.
Hit for Power
Again, Harper has a slight disadvantage because he’s played more years, giving him more of a chance for his power numbers to drop.
However, there’s never been a doubt that Harper can hit the ball a long way. He’s already put together three seasons with over 30 home runs, including a career-high 42 home runs in 2015. Over the first eight full seasons of his career, Harper averaged over 27 home runs per year. That being said, most of his power numbers have come more recently whereas Bellinger averaged 37 home runs over his first three seasons, helping give him a career slugging percentage of .545 compared to Harper’s .515.
Complaints about Harper’s defense have been rare during his career. He has a cannon of an arm in right field that frightens base runners trying to grab an extra base.
However, he doesn’t have a Gold Glove and has had more than enough time to collect one. On the other hand, Bellinger gives the Dodgers flexibility by being able to play first base, right field, and even center field.
The kicker is that Bellinger won a Gold Glove in 2019 for his efforts in right field, directly beating out Harper for the honors.
When it comes to the intangibles, some believe that Harper might actually lose points. It’s no secret that he can be a bit of a hothead with a temper.
To be fair, some people prefer to see that kind of fire and passion from baseball players. However, others prefer to see more poise from players, particularly superstars. With Bellinger, there are no such concerns. He’s almost always calm and poised and shows impressive leadership skills for a young player.
Harper vs Bellinger: The Verdict
This is a close call because Harper has been around longer and has a few more all-star selections than Bellinger.
Both players also have an MVP and a Rookie of the Year to cancel each other out.
In the end, Bellinger’s defensive versatility and edge in power make him a better player than Harper. If there’s any doubt about that, consider that Bellinger hit four home runs in the 2020 postseason when the Dodgers won the World Series while the Nationals won the 2019 World Series the year after Harper left town.