Phillies: History says Bryce Harper is poised for MVP season

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Phillies OF Bryce Harper’s stats suggest he could put up MVP numbers in 2020

When Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper won the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award as a member of the Washington Nationals, he led the league in several categories: runs scored (188), home runs (42), on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649), and OPS (1.109).

Over his first 60 games that season — the length of the 2020 Major League Baseball season slated to begin on July 23-24 — Harper slashed .333/.469/.721 with 13 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, 49 RBI, 51 walks, and 51 strikeouts spanning 254 plate appearances.

But, the six-time All-Star’s early-season magic five years ago is not an outlier; rather, a career-long trend, as the outfielder enters his ninth season in the majors.

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During MLB Network’s live coverage of the first official day of full-squad workouts in summer camp on Friday, Tom Verducci was bullish on Harper’s chances to come away with the MVP award in the shortened 2020 season.

“I look for guys who traditionally start fast because it’s imperative. Bryce Harper, look at this guy’s numbers starting a season. He comes out of the gate ready to go,” Verducci said. “You talk about potential MVP candidates. Yeah, he has won one already, but I love what Harper can give this team coming out of the gate.”

Looking at Harper’s career numbers through the first 60 games for a team, he has a .398 career on-base percentage (OBP) and .559 career slugging percentage (SLG), as opposed to a .378 OBP and .486 SLG in games 61 through 162. Also, in the first 60 contests, Harper averages 14.3 at-bats per home run, almost six at-bats fewer per home run than his 20.4 career at-bats per home run in games 61 or later.

Bryce Harper – Career Breakdown

Team Game No. 1-60:

  • Games: 394
  • On-base percentage: .398
  • Slugging percentage: .559
  • At-bats per home run: 14.3

Team Game No. 61-162:

Games: 690
On-base percentage: .378
Slugging percentage: .486
At-bats per home run: 20.4


Games: 1,084
On-base percentage: .385
Slugging percentage: .512
At-bats per home runs: 17.7

“This guy knows how to get himself ready for a season,”  Verducci continued. “In a sprint, we have seen Bryce carry teams for a month or so. If you carry a team for a month, that’s half a season. Superstar players who can be streaky, I am all in.”

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Verducci’s colleague, Ron Darling shared a similar sentiment that it is Harper’s time to shine in 2020.

“When you look at the Phillies, you see a lot of positives from last season. They’ve made their team better,” Darling said. “But, I think the way they get into the postseason is that Bryce Harper leads them there. In 2015 when he won the MVP, he had a 60-game stretch where his numbers were as good as you’ve ever seen in the history of the game.”

“It will take that to put the Phillies back in the postseason.”