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May 17, 2022

Is Bryce Harper on pace to repeat as NL MVP?

He can't field right now, but he sure is hittin'

Phillies MLB
Bryce-Harper-Phillies-at-Dodgers-May-2022.jpg Jonathan Hui/USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper in the Phillies dugout.

Bryce Harper can't play the field right now because of the UCL tear in his right elbow, but with the way he's swinging the bat, the Phillies can happily live with that. 

The reigning NL MVP has been on a tear since being forced to settle in as a full-time DH.

Playing in three of the four-game series out in LA, Harper went 8 for 12 with four doubles, three home runs, and eight runs batted in. And for the month of May so far: A .396 batting average, seven doubles, six home runs, and a staggering 1.351 OPS through 12 games.

The Phillies' offense came alive out west — resulting in the club winning 5 of 7 against Seattle and then the Dodgers — and Harper has been leading the charge in the defense of his MVP crown.

“[Harper] is in a great spot and it’s great to see,” manager Joe Girardi said after Saturday's 12-10 win over Los Angeles in extra (via MLB.com). “Obviously he’s so important to our offense, but we have other guys in good spots too, which is really helping out.”

Through 34 games so far in 2022, Harper is batting .305 with a .995 OPS and has nine home runs, 14 doubles, 27 runs batted in, and 29 runs scored. His batting average and OPS trail only the Padres' Manny Machado (.359 / 1.029), who the Phillies will kick off a three-game series against Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Does that bode well for Harper in a bid to win his second consecutive NL MVP award and third overall for his career?

Taking stock of how the MVPs of the past 10 years have performed through the first 34 games of their season, he does seem pretty on pace. He's even a bit ahead of what his numbers were this time last year. 

Here's a breakdown of how things look with the numbers courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Year Player, Team PA 2B/3B/HRRBI BB/SO BA/OPS 
2022 Bryce Harper, PHI 147 14 / 1 / 9 27 11 / 33 .305 / .994 
2021 Bryce Harper, PHI 145 8 / 0 / 7 1324 / 35 .311 / 989 
2020 Freddie Freeman, ATL 14311 / 1 / 5 21 25 / 23 .314 / .984 
2019 Cody Bellinger, LAD 142 7 / 1 / 14 38 19 / 20 .412 / 1.326 
2018 Christian Yelich, MIL 149 6 / 1 / 5 19 13 / 33 .299 / .833 
2017 Giancarlo Stanton, MIA 148 5 / 0 / 11 26 16 / 35 .267 / .902 
2016 Kris Bryant, CHC 156 10 / 0 / 6 25 16 / 33 .283 / .851 
2015 Bryce Harper, WSH 147 7 / 0 / 12 31 29 / 38 .308 / 1.117 
2013 Andrew McCutchen, PIT 141 9 / 0 / 4 19 10 / 18 .271 / .760 
2012 Buster Posey, SFG 137 6 / 0 / 4 15 11 / 27 .302 / .802 

*NOTE: 2014 is not included because Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the award.

And because Harper is trying to become the first back-to-back MVP in either league in nearly a decade, let's run his '21 and '22 numbers through 34 games up against the last guy to do it: Miguel Cabrera.

Year Player, Team PA 2B/3B/HR  RBIBB/SO BA/OPS 
2022 Bryce Harper, PHI 147 14 / 1 / 9 27 11 / 33 .305 / .994 
2021 Bryce Harper, PHI 145 8 / 0 / 7 13 24 / 35 .311 / .989 
2013 Miguel Cabrera, DET 161 9 / 1 / 7 40 17 / 19 .376 / 1.050 
2012 Miguel Cabrera, DET 148 5 / 0 / 7 29 10 / 22 .294 / .830 


In fairness, prime Miguel Cabrera is a near impossible hitter to keep up with. 

SOURCE: Baseball Reference


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