Phillies star Bryce Harper is now the predicted NL MVP
Last week, he was behind only Fernando Tatis Jr. in the NL MVP odds. This week, the tables have turned.
As of early this week, MLB.com’s expert panel voted him above Fernando Tatis Jr. as the likely NL MVP candidate. Harper received 42 votes to Tatis’ 27.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Harper is slashing .313/.429/.621 with a 1.050 OPS. He leads all of MLB in slugging and OPS, as well as OPS+, just as he did during his first MVP season in 2015. Only one other player in MLB has an OPS over 1.000, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Harper has a 182 OPS+ in 130 games so far. In Phillies franchise history since the live-ball era began in 1920, only the legendary Mike Schmidt had an OPS+ above 180 in a full season, when he won his second consecutive MVP award in 1981. Coincidentally, Schmidt had a 198 OPS+ that season, the same as Harper’s during his first MVP season.
Here’s how Harper ranks among National League hitters this season:
Runs: 3rd (94)
Hits: 14th (142)
Doubles: 2nd (39)
Home runs: 4th (33)
RBI: T-23 (80)
BB: 2nd (90)
Harper’s clutch factor cannot be discounted, either. He has 17 go-ahead hits and is well above the average MLB hitter when it comes to RBI with the same number of plate appearances (555).
Phillies manager Joe Girardi says Bryce Harper is playing like an MVP
Phillies manager Joe Girardi praised his superstar ahead of Tuesday’s game, even dropping the word “MVP” in his soundbite:
Harper’s September success is keeping the Phillies’ postseason hopes alive
With the exception of a September 3 game against the Marlins, Harper has reached base in every game this month. He has seven doubles, seven home runs, 15 runs scored, and 17 RBI in 19 games this month. Dating back to the beginning of August, he has 17 home runs in 47 games, which is more than J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, and Odubel Herrera have hit all season.
While many have argued that Harper’s first half of the season was simply good, but not MVP-caliber, the counter-argument is that Harper was hurt early in the season, and rebounded to have one of the greatest second halves in Phillies franchise history.
If the Phillies make the postseason for the first time since 2011 – heck, if they even finish the season over .500 for the first time since 2011 – it will be because Harper used every ounce of his strength to get them there.