When the Phillies first signed Bryce Harper, other fans clearly didn’t like his price tag. Everywhere he went, Harper would receive “OVERRATED” chants. As seen in the clip above, he silenced those haters.
That was in 2019. In 2021, Bryce Harper has kept the Phillies in playoff contention entering September and could realistically win the National League MVP.
How is Bryce battling for MVP? Well, just look at his August numbers.
To put into perspective how great of a month Harper had, from August 6-22 Harper hit just .191 in 47 at-bats. Also in that span, Harper had a .371 OBP and .553 slugging %. Harper ended the month with 8 games of hitting .484 with a 1.508 OPS.
Bryce Harper hasn’t just had a great month. He’s been this way for the entire season. Harper is slashing .306/.420/.594 with 32 doubles and 26 home runs. The only other player in the majors with a 3/4/5 slash line is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays. Harper leads all of baseball with a 1.014 OPS.
In both FanDuel and DraftKings betting odds, Harper has the second-highest odds of being named NL MVP at +750 and +700, respectfully. The player with the highest odds remains the largest obstacle to Harper’s second MVP award.
Fernado Tatis Jr.
The San Diego Padres’ shortstop turned outfielder has turned heads in what is essentially his first full season. Fernando Tatis leads the National League in home runs with 36. He also leads the majors in slugging %with a .638 mark. Coincidentally, Harper’s .594 is second in the NL.
He’s been an extra-base machine with 62 of his 106 hits going for extra bases. Tatis also uses his speed to wreak havoc on his opponents. He is 24/27 in stolen base attempts this season.
There’s truly only one drawback to Tatis’ play in 2021: his defense. While he was still at shortstop, Tatis racked up 20 errors in just 83 games. He had a .933 fielding %.
How Can Harper Win?
Since coming back from his injured shoulder, Tatis has slugged the ball but really hasn’t hit well. In his last 15 games, he’s hit .230 with a .319 OBP. His .574 slugging % in that time is what is truly keeping Tatis as the favorite, for now.
Tatis was hitting .300 after August 15th. That’s fallen to .282.
Bryce Harper will have to continue his blazing hot end of August into September. The biggest factors for Harper will be his home run count and maintaining a 3/4/5 slash line.
If Tatis does turn it on down the stretch, there’s little to no hope for Harper. There’d be only one other factor that could save him: playoffs. The Padres are in an almost precarious position as the Phillies at the moment. They almost certainly cannot win their division, so their only hope lies in the Wild Card.
They currently sit just 1/2 a game out, but both the Cardinals and Phillies are just 2.5 games back of that second Wild Card. If the Phillies made the playoffs and the Padres didn’t, voters might look toward Harper.
September will decide how the MVP vote falls.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire