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How Harper’s 2021 season compares to his 2015 MVP year

For the first time since 2015, Bryce Harper is putting up a case to claim the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award. After a hot start to the season followed by a slight dip, Harper has re-found his hot stroke at the plate in a big way.

Bryce Harper’s name is in the MVP conversation. (Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)

In the last 28 days, the Phillies right fielder is batting .341 with an OPS of 1.195. In totality, he now boasts a .297 average with 21 home runs and 46 RBIs.

During the 2015 season, Harper finished with a .330 batting average, 42 home runs, 99 RBIs, and a 1.109 OPS. It will take a miracle for Harper to match his home run and RBI total from 2015, but if that happens, you can count on Harper taking home the MVP as well as a Phillies playoff berth.

Harper’s MVP year was void of any cold streaks. In August, his worst month of the year in regards to OPS (.909), Harper still had an on-base percentage of .460. The lingering affects of getting hit in the face and wrist with a fastball along with some normal struggles led to Harper having a terrible month of May in 2021. His .634 OPS in May is lower than his August slugging percentage so far. In all other months, Harper has put up an OPS of at least .947 in 2021.

July and August in 2015, he amassed batting averages of .300 and .327 compared to .333 and .310 so far this season. Notably, his home run production in these two months (eight) has already surpassed his 2015 output of seven.

Still, with half of August to play, both of these numbers have every chance to continue their upward trajectory.

With runners in scoring position in 2015, Harper hit .301 with eight home runs and 55 RBIs. This season, he’s been even better from an average standpoint, batting .311 with one home run and 22 RBIs. Harper ended the 2015 season with 158 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. As of Saturday, he amazingly has only 78 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.

When his teammates provide the opportunities, Harper’s been showing no wilt under the limelight of the clutch moments. With runners on base, the slugging right fielder’s average sits at .314. In 2015, he averaged .336 with runners on base.

Throughout Harper’s tenure in the big leagues, his numbers improve in the second half. In his initial MVP campaign, he hit .320 with 16 home runs, 17 doubles, and 38 RBIs in the second half.

So far, Harper’s average currently sits at .346 with six home runs, 12 doubles, and 12 RBIs in the second half. If this pace continues, there’s every reason those outputs should closely mirror each other.

All 30 MVP voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America gave Harper a first place MVP vote in 2015. This time around, he is competing with the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr among others. While he has missed significant time with a shoulder injury, Tatis still ranks in the top three in the league in home runs (31) and stolen bases (23).

According to Draftkings, Tatis still holds the best odds at -115 to take home the hardware this year, with Harper behind him at +250. The Dodgers’ Max Muncy (+500) and Trea Tuner (+900) as well as the Braves’ Freddie Freeman (+1,200) are among the other candidates who could challenge Harper and Tatis for the award.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Robert Dean Hardy

    August 14, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    I think people tend to forget that while unstated there are many more factors that go into an MVP award. Ohtani is the solid choice for the NL MVP this year. harper was a “myth” player when he started. The claims and buzz made him exciting before he ever touched a bat in his 1st MLB game. Now, you point out this and that, while ignoring how many MVPs have been pitches and not HR focused fielders. Tunnel vision and similar=same thinking is going on here. I still love the guy. He’s the right kind of *** for baseball and I want most of my players to be hostile, with people like Trout to fill in the nice guy gap.

    HYPE is what pushed harper to the front of the line. Hype sells tickets and those owners DO have pull. They don;t make the decision, but they can influence a guys choice. When you have a guy coming out that is predicted….predicted to crank 800 in his career (RIP the shift) and be the next “ILL RUN YA DOWN!” Peter Rose, who wins, of course, Rookie of the year…then plays a bit languid and THEN in 2015, hits a streak. People get excited, the kids in his groove finally…!!!! That was what helped. BECAUSE IF YOU GO BY THE NUMBERS…he was smoked by Chris Davis in 2015. So, as I said, it’s not just stats. There is an emotional factor

    BUT STILL…If you feel that similar=same, then it’s either a smoke-blowing push or a fanboi with dreamy eyes, and not someone who is unbiased about baseball.

    Ohtani will be the MVP. My father, God love him, called in in May when the kid wasn’t even on my radar as I was all about Guerrero and Freeman and still loving Judge. But his prediction was based on a lot of factors and while he would not admit it, one was emotional hype and that’s what Harper had in 2015 and what Ohtani has now.

    But hey, Chin up!

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