Phillies: Bryce Harper’s NL MVP odds improving

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 27: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 27: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Phillies star Bryce Harper’s NL MVP odds continue to improve

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper has been scorching hot in the second half of the season, emerging as a top contender for this year’s NL MVP.

San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. is currently favored at -200 to win MVP honors, with Harper close behind at +275. They have pulled ahead of all other competition; no other player is favored for less than +1100 (bet $100 to win $1,000).

At the end of August, Tatis had a firmer hold on the award, favored at -400. Harper was still the runner-up, but his odds have improved considerably.

Recently, Harper was drawing comparisons to Ryan Howard in 2008. Now, he’s drawing comparisons to Howard’s 2006 MVP season.

The Phillies are struggling in September, but Harper is hotter than ever

The Phillies have struggled to beat the “bad” teams on their “easy” schedule, but Harper has plowed through their pitching. His now-1.038 OPS leads all of MLB, as does his 180 OPS+. He’s slashing .309/.424/.614 with 32 home runs, 34 doubles, and 73 RBI. So far in September, he has six home runs in 13 games.

But anyone can look like a star in a small sample size like 13 games. In 56 games since the All-Star break, Harper is hitting an astounding .346/.479/.741 with a 1.219 OPS, 20 doubles, a triple, 17 home runs, and 39 RBI. He’s walked more (48) than he’s struck out (43).

Since the All-Star break, Tatis has only played in 39 games due to injury. But he’s still doing well, hitting .287/.378/.573, a .951 OPS, 11 doubles, 10 home runs, 30 RBI. He’s homered twice in 12 games in September. Impressive, but still considerably cooler than Harper.

Recency bias always plays a part in how players’ seasons are judged at the end of the year. If Harper continues to slug his way through September, he could be NL MVP once again.

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