At this time a year ago, Bryce Harper was unemployed, but he was the odds-on favorite to win the National League MVP. As he prepares for his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Harper’s odds to win the league’s most prestigious award aren’t quite as high as they were a season ago.
Bovada gives Harper +1400 odds to win the award in 2020, which is tied with Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for the sixth-best odds in the National League.
New Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, who won the American League MVP in 2018 while playing for the Boston Red Sox, is the favorite with +350 odds. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has the second best odds at +400. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich – who won the award in 2018 and finished runner-up a season ago – has +700 odds. Betts’ new teammate, Cody Bellinger, the reigning National League MVP, has +800 odds. Both Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., two of the game’s brightest young stars, also have +800 odds as well.
Harper, of course, won the award in 2015 while playing for the Washington Nationals. In his age-22 season, Harper put up historic production, slashing .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs, 99 RBIs, 124 walks and a staggering 9.3 fWAR. He was a unanimous selection for the National League MVP.
Since 2015, Harper has made three National League All-Star teams, but hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in MVP voting. In fairness to him, he would have finished in the top three – at a minimum – if he didn’t hyperextend his knee on a wet first base bag at Nationals Park in August of 2017. Prior to that injury, Harper hit .319/.413/.595 with 29 home runs, 87 RBIs, 68 walks and a 4.8 fWAR in just 111 games.
Following a relatively disappointing final season with the Nationals, Harper posted a strong first season with the Phillies. Harper hit .260 with 35 home runs, a career-high 114 RBIs, 99 walks and a 4.6 fWAR. Additionally, he had one of the best defensive seasons of his career, posting 13 outfield assists and nine defensive runs saved.
Of course, when the Phillies rewarded Harper with a 13-year/$330 million contract last March, they did so with the expectation that he would compete for MVP awards in the front half of his deal. After a calm, stable winter – especially when compared to last offseason – there’s reason to think Harper is poised to have a huge year in his age-27 season.
A year ago, catcher J.T. Realmuto was the Phillies lone All-Star, and was the only player on the team to earn National League MVP votes, as he finished 14th in a crowded field. Interestingly, Realmuto isn’t currently among Bovada’s list of the 20 favorites to win the award. Rhys Hoskins, who is looking to bounce back after a disastrous second half in 2019, is listed with +4000 odds.
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