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J.T. Realmuto: Bryce Harper not a ‘villain,’ just ‘misunderstood’

After spending one season as Bryce Harper’s teammate, Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is at a loss over how the superstar slugger is saddled with such an unflattering reputation, saying Harper “was a pro in every way here in Year 1.”

Realmuto went to bat for Harper during an appearance this week on MLB Network. He argued that the reputation that precedes Harper is unfair and inaccurate.

“I’m not sure why he’s the villain in baseball because really, his personality doesn’t portray that in the clubhouse,” Realmuto said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Harper gets a little bit of a bad rap.”

While his impressions of Harper are nothing but favorable now after spending the season as his teammate, Realmuto — who arrived in Philly ahead of Harper via an offseason trade — admits to some trepidation about the slugger ahead of the star’s arrival.

“I feel like Harper’s one of the most misunderstood people in baseball,” Realmuto said. “Coming in, I wasn’t sure what kind of teammate he’d be just because of some of the things I’d heard. But the guy’s an awesome teammate, goes out and plays the game hard as he can every single night. That’s the kind of leader you want on your team.”

Harper’s name has been in the news this postseason despite the Phillies failing to reach the playoffs. That comes courtesy of how his former team, the Washington Nationals, won the World Series in his absence.

The Nationals’ remarkable run led to Harper getting mocked and ridiculed on social media and elsewhere, despite the fact he wished the Nationals well in their championship pursuit.

There are times, however, that Harper can come off as a bit aloof and arrogant, even excessively brash and cocky. The case can be made, however, that how he’s portrayed as a villain has as much to do with envy of his talent and star power as his actual conduct or demeanor.

Realmuto, who didn’t feel any “major sense of arrogance emanating” from Harper this season, certainly appears to believe that to be the case.