How Bryce Harper’s 2021 compares to his 2015 MVP season

Sep 2, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) reacts during the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) reacts during the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bryce Harper, by many accounts, is having an MVP-caliber season for the Philadelphia Phillies, especially over the last few months.

He leads MLB in OPS and has led all of MLB in wRC+ (a more comprehensive and indicative offensive stat) since June 11.

Harper has stiff competition from Fernando Tatis Jr., Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, and Trea Turner, to name a few of the other names currently in the NL MVP conversation. But in a way, he’s also competing against himself, as Harper has already won the NL MVP award, back in 2015.

So let’s make some comparisons: Harper to himself, Harper to his competition, and Harper to the defending NL MVP’s 2020 season.

How does Bryce Harper’s 2021 performance compare to his 2015 MVP season?

Comparing Harper’s current season to his 2015 season makes sense by the logic that if those numbers won him the award then, they can inform his chances now. Basically, is Harper an MVP by his own MVP standards?

In 2015, Harper led the NL in runs scored and home runs, and led MLB in on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. This season, he leads in OPS and OPS+.

Harper’s has only played 112 games so far, so here’s how his numbers line up with his first 112 games from 2015:

2015: .327/.454/.634, 1.088 OPS, 126 hits, 26 doubles, one triple, 30 HR, 73 RBI, 88 BB, 98 SO, 5 SB

2021: .305/.418/.589, 1.007 OPS, 120 hits, 32 doubles, one triple, 26 HR, 63 RBI, 74 BB, 105 SO, 12 SB

By most metrics, Harper doesn’t measure up to his 2015 self, though he comes fairly close. Luckily, he’s not his competition, merely an interesting angle for analysis.

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