Phillies: Three reasons Bryce Harper will win the MVP
Now that Bryce Harper’s press conferences are finished our minds can shift towards the upcoming Phillies season.
We got him, boys and girls. We got him. On March 2nd, atop the first base dugout at Spectrum field in Clearwater, Florida, Matt Klentak, John Middleton, Scott Boras, and Bryce Harper ushered in what will be the greatest era of Phillies’ baseball since the early 1980s and late 2000s.
The amount of talent that this team possesses is clear, but as Charlie Manuel said, Bryce Harper is the icing on top of a four-layer chocolate cake.
Many considered 2018 a down year for Harper (if you consider 34 home runs/100 RBIs a down year), and Harper would probably point to his significantly lower batting average (.243) and increase in strikeouts (169) as an area for improvement. However, there is plenty of evidence why Harper will be a significant contender for NL MVP in 2019, and if I were a betting man, I’d bet on #3 in the red and white pinstripes.
1. There hasn’t been a repeat NL MVP in a decade
The amount of talent spread throughout the league is astounding, and there is no clear-cut “best player” in the NL. The last player to win back-to-back NL MVPs was Albert Pujols, who was the most dominant hitter in the league, winning three MVPs in five years.
Christian Yelich, Javy Baez and Nolan Arenado all had dominant years, with both Baez and Arenado playing to boost their arbitration value, and Yelich trying to prove his worth to his new team. But none of them are “The Machine.” In fact, the last five position players to win MVP (Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Harper, Kris Bryant, and Giancarlo Stanton) saw a decline in their production numbers the following season.
Harper has a lot to prove to the people of Philadelphia, and he is extremely driven to win, which was evident in his press conference. One can assume that his impending free agency decision affected his discipline at the plate, but even that didn’t affect his production numbers.
The fact that there hasn’t been a repeat MVP doesn’t cement that Harper will win. It does mean that the race is wide open, and I believe Harper is set on proving that he’s worth every penny of that $330 million contract.
Harper said that he isn’t driven by individual accolades, but if he has similar numbers to his production in 2018 and puts the Phillies in the driver’s seat in the NL East, he’ll put himself in a great position to win the award.