Will Bryce Harper's injury cost him the NL MVP this season?

The Phillies first baseman has turned up the heat in the NL MVP race and is one of the favorites. Will his ill-timed injury throw a wrench in those plans?
Bryce Harper was placed on the 10-day IL on Friday
Bryce Harper was placed on the 10-day IL on Friday / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies are off to their best start in over a decade and have continued their winning ways. The leader who has asserted himself early on with clutch hit after clutch hit has been none other than Bryce Harper. With Harper possibly on the cusp of his second NL Player of the Month this year, there is yet another achievement that is there for the taking.

This all came to a screeching halt after Harper ran out a ground ball to second base, resulting in him clutching his left hamstring in agony in a Phillies 7-4 loss on Thursday. The loss in the standings is now the least of their concerns, as both Harper and Kyle Schwarber were placed on the 10-day IL on Friday.

Will Bryce Harper's injury cost him the NL MVP this season?

Occasionally you'll see players hit their payday and slowly fade into irrelevance. Harper, on the other hand, has become the leader of the club since signing his mega deal with Philadelphia in free agency, winning his second MVP Award in 2021. Harper led his team to back-to-back deep playoff runs, knocking on the door of the franchise's third title.

In 76 games, Harper is batting .303/.399/.582, carrying a .981 OPS with 20 homers and 58 RBI, which puts him among the league leaders in almost every offensive category. Now, a break in action for Harper will test his ability to remain locked in and continue pushing this Phillies team into October.

This year's NL MVP race is already tough enough, per MLB.com's Will Leitch, with Los Angeles Dodgers two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani playing at an elite level. In 2021, Ohtani set a record by becoming the first player to win the MVP Award while playing primarily DH. Ohtani also logged 130 1/3 innings as a starting pitcher.

Ohtani has been just as good, if not slightly better, offensively, than Harper so far. Both Harper and Ohtani are competing for a coveted third MVP Award, which would put either player into elite company as only 11 players have achieved such a milestone.


Bryce Harper

Shohei Ohtani

























There's still plenty of time for Harper to catch up to the raw numbers of Ohtani, as it was announced by Phillies manager Rob Thomson that there is a "good chance" that Harper will return before the All-Star break. Harper finished June hitting .384 with a 1.198 OPS.

Luckily, Harper avoided serious injury which keeps his NL MVP hopes alive. With a minimal amount of time missed, hopefully any rust can be avoided and he can snap right back into MVP form.

Something to note for Harper when he returns is his defensive metrics down the stretch. Ohtani's value is weighted solely on his offensive output this year due to reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow, while Harper, in his first full year at a new position, is playing a Gold Glove first base.

Harper is in the 94th percentile in outs above average (OAA) with five. This additional level to Harper's game is nearly impossible to deny and proves his versatility, in addition to his dominance at the plate.

What makes Harper tick is his constantly evolving nature as a player. This season might be the greatest example of this we've seen. Harper will recover and give baseball fans the NL MVP race that they deserve as we patiently wait until he's reactivated. His return also gives hope to him starting the All-Star Game for the first time as a Philadelphia Phillie.