Bryce Harper: National League MVP
From the day that Bryce Harper inked his 13 year $330million deal with the Phillies, it was expected it would lead to wins for a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade. The results haven't been there though for the Phillies. When a team struggles to make the playoffs, it is hard for star players to get the credit they deserve. Bryce Harper has fallen victim to that by not being selected to the All Star Game for the past 3 seasons in Philadelphia. Now, with the Phillies in the thick of a pennant race, Bryce Harper is a name being talked about across the country.
Since the All Star break, Harper is hitting an AVG of .388 (8th), .534 OBP (1st), .746 SLG (4th), 1.280 OPS (1st). He also ranks 1st in walks, 4th in hits, and 4th in runs since the break. Harper is one of the hottest players in the MLB through the past month. His season totals are up to .305 AVG (10th), .415 OBP (2nd), .568 (7th), .983 OPS (5th) with 19 HR and 44 RBI.
Many people point to the lack of RBI numbers for Harper, but that is not a fault of his. Harper has only had 59 AB with Runners in Scoring Position this season. Harper is hitting .322 AVG, .461 OBP, .441 SLG, and .901 OPS with 1 HR and 22 RBI. Harper has had less AB with RISP than teammates Alec Bohm (94 AB), Rhys Hoskins (107 AB), Jean Segura (74 AB), Odubel Herrera (71 AB), Andrew McCutchen (76 AB), and JT Realmuto (77 AB). The Phillies have failed to get into scoring position to allow Harper to make a bigger impact and drive in runs, but when they have, Harper has produced. To blame Harper for his teammates not being on base or in scoring position is not a fair judgement.
Early in the season it was a two man race with Fernando Tatis Jr., and Jacob deGrom for the NL MVP, but since, both players have suffered injuries. Tatis has an injury which may keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season, while deGrom likely is out all of August leaving the NL MVP race wide open. Prior to Friday night's game against the Mets, Bryce Harper's MVP odds sat at +3000, and those same odds now sit at +500. Harper has climbed past Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman, and Harper now sits 3rd in the odds just behind Max Muncy at +450. Fernando Tatis Jr. still sits as the favorite, but if he doesn't come back to play this season, it is unlikely he wins the MVP award.
If the Phillies and Harper stay hot, not only will the playoff drought end in Philadelphia, but Harper could be the first MVP for the Phillies since Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins went back to back in 2006 and 2007.