Phillies superstar Harper wins second career MVP

Bryce Harper claimed his second Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, edging out Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and several others in what seemingly became a wide-open race in the National League.

Harper captured 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 received four first-place votes and Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner got one.

A month removed from his 29th birthday, Harper becomes the fourth player since 2000 to win multiple MVPs before turning 30, joining Mike Trout (3), Albert Pujols (3) and Alex Rodriguez (2).

Harper, a unanimous MVP while playing for the Washington Nationals in 2015, kept a flawed Philadelphia Phillies team in the hunt for the postseason right up until the very end in 2021. He ultimately 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 won the award with a monstrous second half in which he batted .338/.476/.713. Soto was right there with him, batting .348/.525/.639, but was seemingly hurt by playing on a Nationals team that spent most of that stretch out of contention.

Tatis, meanwhile, led the NL with 42 home runs and added 25 stolen bases, all while playing the more demanding position of shortstop. But his San Diego Padres faded dramatically down the stretch, and Tatis’ numbers fell off just enough to deny him an MVP he appeared to be running away with by the All-Star break.

Harper led the majors 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 and a major league-leading 42 doubles. He became the fourth outfielder in major league history to combine at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 400 doubles and 35 homers in the same season, joining Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Barry Bonds.

Harper didn’t turn 29 until Oct. 16, which means he has technically put together two MVP seasons before his 29th birthday. The others to do that, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau: 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.

“To be able to win this award again means so much to me personally,” Harper, the sixth Phillies player to win the MVP, wrote in a statement. “I take pride in giving my all every time I’m on the field and playing the game the right way. I have great teammates and an incredible fan base who pushed me all season and helped bring this award back home to the great city of Philadelphia.”

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