Bryce Harper says Phillies teammate Ranger Suárez deserves to be 2021 NL Comeback Player of the Year
In addition to being one of the most powerful bats in baseball in 2021, Bryce Harper was a true leader on the Philadelphia Phillies.
He publicly praised his teammates for their accomplishments and blamed himself when the club fell short at the end of the season.
"“I felt like I let my team down. It felt like I let the city of Philadelphia down.”– Bryce Harper"
More focused on collective success than personal glory, Harper even turned off comments on his social media this season, so that the ‘MV3’ messages wouldn’t distract him from his goals. So much so that Harper is campaigning for his teammate Ranger Suárez to win NL Comeback Player of the Year instead of a second MVP title for himself.
Phillies breakout player Ranger Suárez was one of the best pitchers in MLB in 2021
Suárez, one could argue, was low-key one of the most valuable players in baseball this year, especially if you define the award as most valuable to one’s team, rather than the totality of the NL (MVP is open to interpretation). The 26-year-old lefty did it all in 2021: long relief, setup man, closer, and finally, a return to the starting rotation for the first time since 2018. Throughout every change, he maintained an ERA under 1.60 and finished the season with a 1.36 ERA over 39 games, of which the Phillies won 23.
In 2020, Suárez contracted COVID and missed most of the shortened season. Due to his struggles last season, he began the 2021 season in Triple-A. But once he came up, there was no going back. From his first appearance on May 9 through his 11th appearance on June 9, he did not allow a single run. 28 of his 39 appearances were scoreless; he never allowed more than three earned runs in a game, and that happened only once.
But most impressive was Suárez’s move back to the rotation. Prior to his first start on August 2, Suárez had only pitched three innings three times that season, and never more than that. After his August 7 start, he never pitched less than 4 1/3 innings. In September, he went five-plus innings in each of his six starts, and went six or more in all but the first start of the month. His penultimate start of the season was an astounding complete-game shutout Maddux (less than 100 pitches) in which he only allowed four hits and issued zero walks to a hapless Pittsburgh Pirates team.
It’s rare to see a player as versatile, flexible, and adaptable as Suárez. The Phillies needed so much from him this season, and he delivered every single time.
MLB defines Comeback Player of the Year as the award given to the player “who has re-emerged on the field during the season.”
What a re-emergence it was.