Philadelphia Phillies right outfielder Bryce Harper just won his second career NL MVP on Thursday, edging out Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and several others in a wide open race in the National League. Harper received 17 of the 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Soto (six first-place votes) and Tatis (two) finished second and third, respectively, in the vote tally, which also adds points for second- and third-place finishes. San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford also received four first-place votes as well as Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner receiving one.
Harper just became the fourth player since 2000 to win multiple MVPs before turning 30, joining Mike Trout (three), Albert Pujols (three) and Alex Rodriguez (two). Mike Schmidt, the Phillies legend who was crowned MVP three times himself in his career, presented the award. Harper referred to hard-nosed fans of Philadelphia when he stated, "All they want you to do is work hard, they want you to play hard, they want you to work hard, they want no BS. They just want you to work hard each night and try to win and try to be a great player every single night. I respect that, and I love that. They let you know how they feel each and every night, and I love that as well."
Harper also was a unanimous MVP back in 2015 with the Washington Nationals who helped keep a very flawed Phillies team in the postseason race this season. He led the NL in slugging percentage (.615) and park-adjusted OPS (179) while accumulating 6.6 FanGraphs wins above replacement, tied with Soto for second in the NL behind Turner. Harper would have an imperious second half where he would bat .338/.476/.713. Soto was right there with him, batting .348/.525/.639, but was hurt by playing on a Nationals team that was out of contention throughout most of the season.
Meanwhile, Tatis would lead the NL with 42 home runs and 25 stolen bases, all while playing one of the hardest positions in all of baseball, the shortstop. His San Diego Padres faded in the final stretch of the season with his numbers falling off just enough to deny him the MVP that he appeared to be the favorite for midseason.
All these guys overcame adversity this season, whether it was Soto with a lack of lineup protection which left him few pitches to hit, Tatis overcoming a left shoulder injury, or Harper overcoming a 97 mph fastball that hit him dead in the face on April 28th. But, despite that, Harper still overcame that and was crowned the MVP less than seven months later.
Harper led the NL in ESPN's version of win probability added (4.69) and finished with a .309/.429/.615 slash line, 35 home runs, 84 RBIs, 13 stolen bases with a major league-leading 42 doubles. He became the fourth outfielder in major league history to combine at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles and 35 homers in the same season, joining Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Bonds.
Harper just turned 29 on October 16th and has two MVP seasons with many years ahead which puts him in rare air with legends such as Trout, Pujols, Bonds, Musial, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Juan Gonzalez, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Dale Murphy, Hal Newhouser and Frank Thomas, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Harper also was a class act by referencing Soto and Tatis great years, stating, "I don't think people understand -- we don't know until they know as well, not knowing, understanding that two guys next to me had unbelievable years, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis -- two great years that shouldn't go unrecognized -- and knowing that I'm looking at my wife, looking at my kids, knowing that my family is there, it just makes me emotional.”
He also stated, "Being able to look back on it, understanding kinda what I did as a player this year, I'm definitely gonna remember it and understand the value that I had on this season.” The Phillies should be excited about the transcendent talent they have in Harper who only just finished the third season of his 13-year, $330 million contract with the team.
Expect Harper to continue to add to his Hall of Fame career as he continues to wow us with his amazing play in the years ahead.