November 18, 2021
The Phillies paid Bryce Harper to play like an MVP, and he did that in 2021. Anyone who watched him knows it. Now, it's official.
After a season that saw the Phillies frustratingly limp to the finish line and miss the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season, the team's $330 million man did anything but, using a red-hot finish to the year to single-handedly keep Philadelphia relevant until the final week of the season.
And on Thursday night, 24 hours after Phillies ace Zack Wheeler finished second for the National League Cy Young award, Harper was named the NL's Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, becoming the 20th player in Major League Baseball history to win the award twice. His first came with the Nationals back in 2015.
"I'm overwhelmed, for sure. I'm very excited. I've got so many people to thank, of course my family and my wife," Harper said on the MLB Network broadcast while wiping tears from his eyes. "This year was tough. It started off getting hit in the face. It was definitely a tough couple of days for me, weeks for me, trying to get back. But I was able to get back.
"My teammates were incredible throughout the whole process of trying to get back and things like that. I've got to thank my teammates, the city of Philadelphia, our fans, John Middleton, the whole Middleton family, my chef, Dan [laughs]. I never went to bed hungry. And my kiddos, plugging me along every single day. My dad, my mom, I mean everybody. I was a big effort for us this year and it was just a lot of fun to be here and be a part of it."
Earlier this offseason, Harper took home Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron Award honors for his .309 season that included 35 homers and a league best .615 slugging percentage and 42 doubles. But his incredible work at the plate is even more impressive than those frontline numbers can convey.
In just 141 (of a possible 162) games, Harper's advance stats are eye-popping:
|Total extra base hits||78||1st|
|Win probability added||4.7||1st|
|Offensive win %||.804||1st|
|RF fielding %||.996||2nd|
Those are a lot of stats to weed through, but his stellar play in nearly every facet of the game — from plate discipline to hitting for average to hitting for power to fielding his position — surely has him deserving of his second MVP trophy.
And on Thursday, the voters made it clear that his performance was more valuable than other finalists Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto, each of whom had monster seasons themselves. Harper finished with 17 first place votes and 246 points overall, while Soto finished in second with six first-place votes and 274 points. Tatis Jr. was third with two first-place votes and 244 total points.
"What Bryce did this season was extraordinary," said Phillies managing partner John Middleton said in a statement. "With this award he joins a fraternity of some of the greatest players to ever wear a Phillies uniform. I am so happy for Bryce that his historic 2021 season is being recognized with numerous honors and the pinnacle of them all, the Most Valuable Player Award."
Harper joins Jimmy Rollins (2007) and Ryan Howard (2006) as recent MVPs in the city. Mike Schmidt, who presented the award to Harper, won the award three times (1980, '81, '86). Prior to that, old timers Jim Konstanty (1950) and Chuck Klein (1932) were the only other Phillies to be named National League MVP.
Unfortunately, despite that dominant season from Harper, the Phillies again failed to reach the postseason. And as they head into another important offseason, with 10 years remaining on Harper's monster deal, here's hoping the club does whatever it can to avoid wasting any more MVP campaigns from the 29-year-old.
Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports