Buster Olney thinks Phillies OF Bryce Harper will win the 2020 NL MVP Award
Late June is usually when conversations begin regarding likely candidates to come away with end-of-season awards. Given the pandemic, however, the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season has been delayed, from the end of March to the end of July. Therefore, this year’s early summer predictions are pre-season rather than mid-season. Philadelphia Phillies players being considered have been few and far between in recent years, but it could all change in 2020.
ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney joined a live broadcast on Wednesday afternoon to share three of his bold predictions for the unprecedented 60-game season. Among them, Phillies star right fielder Bryce Harper coming away with his second career National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Olney noted that, historically, Harper has been an “incredibly fast starter.” Given he is already a six-time All-Star at age 27, that could be enough proof in it of itself.
Last year, his first with the Phillies, the slugger slashed .243/.355/.832 with 11 home runs through 60 games. During his first MVP year (2015), Harper slashed an impressive .328/.464/1.171 with 20 home runs spanning as many contests. The Phillies would benefit tremendously if Harper can find a way to match that performance and slug a home run every three games this season.
Olney continued that Harper will be “chomping at the bit” to go out on the baseball diamond and play, his second of 13 seasons in red pinstripes, adding: “I got Bryce Harper winning the MVP and putting up big numbers.”
On the American League side, Olney predicts four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, of the Cleveland Indians, will similarly come away with MVP honors.
“He’s 26 years old. He’s totally healthy,” Olney said. “And, keep in mind that a third of the Indians games in the schedule they are going to play are against the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals. I think Francisco Lindor is going to feast. I think he’s going to win the MVP.”
The baseball scribe’s third bold prediction was New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu threatening to match or break Ted Williams’ .400 batting average record, held since 1941.
“LeMahieu hit .327 last year,” Olney said. “He won a batting title in 2016 for the Colorado Rockies. So watch for someone threatening .400.”
There may be an asterisk forever tallied onto any accolades achieved in 2020, including the World Series championship. Yet, Phillies fans surely would not mind and would take Harper being the first player since Jimmy Rollins (2007), and the sixth ever player overall in franchise history, to be named MVP.
Just maybe, that alone would be enough to get the team back in the postseason for the first time since 2011.