The greatest Philadelphia Phillie of all-time believes that Bryce Harper is deserving of the National League MVP Award in 2021.
Mike Schmidt — a three-time National League MVP himself — penned a piece for The Associated Press where he made a case for Harper to take home the senior circuit’s top honor, while also comparing him to a former teammate of his:
I’ve got one clear-cut answer for you: Bryce Harper is THE most valuable player to his team in the National League. He’s the clear-cut MVP if the definition is truly Most VALUABLE Player.
Bryce Harper is an enigma. You either love him or hate him, as they say. He plays every day and he plays hard. He loves pressure and is not afraid to fail, and he puts “it” out there — “it” meaning he knows he’s the center of attention and enjoys being “the man.” Most players don’t have that kind of talent, or don’t want the pressure.
I can sum this all up: He is today’s Pete Rose with power.
Schmidt made the case that other National League MVP candidates such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Freddie Freeman have more talent around them, further strengthening the argument in his mind that Harper has literally been the most valuable piece on a National League team.
There’s a case to be made, though, that he’s also going to have had the best season of any player in the National League by the time the 2021 campaign wraps up.
Harper entered play Thursday evening slashing .314/.431/.621 with 33 home runs, 80 RBIs and 92 walks. He is currently the National League leader among position players with a 6.4 fWAR, and leads all of baseball with a 1.051 OPS.
The 28-year-old’s MVP case would certainly be strengthened if he helps the Phillies to reach the postseason, but it doesn’t appear that his case will be dependent upon that. Tatis and the Padres have completely collapsed in the second half of the season, and aren’t even certain to finish with a winning record. Juan Soto has had an unreal second half of the season, but the Nationals waived the white flag on 2021 (and probably 2022) back in July.
Having already won the award once in 2015, a second MVP would make Harper the 32nd player in MLB history to win the award multiple times. Rose, who Schmidt compared him to, “only” won one National League MVP. A second one before the age of 30 would go a long way in assuring that Harper someday joins Schmidt — and hey, maybe even Rose — in Cooperstown.
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