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Bryce Harper joins 31 MLB legends who won multiple MVP Awards

Bryce Harper won the 2021 NL MVP. (Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

A couple hours after Bryce Harper won his second National League MVP Award last Thursday, John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia reminded him that he’s part of a select group of players to win multiple league MVPs before his age-29 season. 

Harper joined an exclusive club that includes Barry Bonds, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial. 

“…I’m a long way away from being where those guys are right now,” Harper said with a smile Thursday night, admitting that not only does he want to win more MVPs, but also a World Series.

From an all-time legacy perspective, yes, Harper still is a long way away from joining that group, perhaps an insurmountable distance. But as you look at the 31 other players who have won multiple league MVPs, there’s a pretty common thread among them.

Barry Bonds: 7

Hall of Fame? 10th year on the ballot in 2021

Bonds won his first NL MVP in 1990 while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He became the first player to win four MVPs when he set the single-season home run in 2001 as a member of the San Francisco Giants. Bonds won four straight NL MVP Awards from 2001 to 2004, ending his career with seven MVP Awards, a record unlikely to ever be broken.

Mike Schmidt: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

The greatest player in Phillies franchise history, Schmidt won back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 1980 and 1981, before capturing the award a third time in 1986, his age-36 season.

Albert Pujols: 3

Hall of Fame? Still Active

One of the greatest right-handed hitters in MLB history, Pujols won his first NL MVP Award in 2005, before winning the award in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Pujols edged out Ryan Howard for the award, preventing Howard from winning a second NL MVP himself. In 2009, Howard finished third, behind Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.

Mickey Mantle: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

While posting a combined 1.174 OPS, Mantle won back-to-back American League MVP Awards in 1956 and 1957. The New York Yankees icon won his third AL MVP in 1960.

Mike Trout: 3

Hall of Fame? Still Active

By the time his age-27 season was over, Trout had finished in the top four in AL MVP voting eight times, three times winning the award. If he can stay healthy moving forward, Trout could very well become the second player to win four league MVPs.

Yogi Berra: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

Between 1951 and 1955, Berra won three AL MVP Awards and finished in the top five of voting for the award all five years. He’s one of two catchers in baseball history that has won 3 MVP Awards.

Alex Rodriguez: 3

Hall of Fame? Becomes eligible for ballot in 2022

Rodriguez won his first AL MVP Award in 2003, his final season with the Texas Rangers. He then captured the award twice as a member of the Yankees, in 2005 and 2007.

Stan Musial: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

Musial won the NL MVP three times (1943, 1946 and 1948), and if he didn’t lose his age-24 season (1945) to World War II service, he may have been the first player to win four league MVPs.

Roy Campanella: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

The other catcher who won three league MVP Awards, Campanella captured the senior circuit’s top honor in 1951, 1953 and 1955, while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jimmie Foxx: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

Though he would win his final AL MVP Award in 1938 as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Foxx won his first two league MVPs while playing for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in 1932 and 1933.

Joe DiMaggio: 3

Hall of Fame? Yes

DiMaggio won the AL MVP in 1939, 1941 and 1947. How many would he have won if he didn’t miss three full seasons — his age-28 to 30 campaigns — because he was serving in World War II?

Cal Ripken Jr.: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Remembered most for his incredible longevity, Ripken fittingly won his two MVP awards eight seasons apart. His first came in 1983, the year after he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award. His second came in 1991, when he edged out Detroit’s Cecil Fielder to claim the AL’s top honor.

Miguel Cabrera: 2

Hall of Fame? Still Active

Cabrera rewarded Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers with back-to-back AL MVP seasons in 2012 and 2013, completing a run of five straight years where he finished in the top five of voting for the award.

Robin Yount: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Yount had an even larger gap in between his MVP awards than Harper did. The lifetime Milwaukee Brewer won the AL MVP in 1982, and then managed to do it again at age 33 in 1989.

Willie Mays: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Considered by some to be the most complete player in MLB history, it’s actually a bit surprising that Mays only won the NL MVP twice (1954 and 1965). However, he finished in the top five in NL MVP voting a staggering nine times.

Frank Thomas: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

“The Big Hurt” won back-to-back AL MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994, combining for 79 home runs, 229 RBIs and a 1.111 OPS over that period.

Roger Maris: 2

Hall of Fame? No

It’s shocking for some to learn that Maris isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but he hit 100 of his 275 career home runs just between 1960 and 1961, his two MVP seasons. He, of course, set the new single-season home run record in 1961 by hitting 61 home runs.

Juan González: 2

Hall of Fame? No

González won the AL MVP in 1996 and 1998 while playing for the Texas Rangers. He holds the strange distinction of being a two-time AL MVP that only made three All-Star teams. “Juan Gone” finished his career with a .295/.343/.561 slash line, 434 home runs and a .904 OPS. If not for his PED connections, González certainly wouldn’t have fallen off the Hall of Fame ballot in just his second year of eligibility.

Ted Williams: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

You read that right, Harper now has as many league MVPs as perhaps the greatest hitter in baseball history. However, there’s a very real possibility that Williams would have won at least one more AL MVP if he didn’t lose the 1943-1945 seasons because of his service in World War II.

Joe Morgan: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

One of the greatest second basemen in MLB history, Morgan won back-to-back NL MVPs in 1975 and 1976. From 1970 to 1977, the “Big Red Machine” in Cincinnati produced six MVP seasons in an eight-year stretch between Morgan, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and George Foster.

Johnny Bench: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

As we mentioned above, Bench was part of one of the most dominant teams in MLB history, and was probably the best overall player that Sparky Anderson had at his disposal. The greatest catcher in MLB history won the NL MVP in 1970 and 1972.

Frank Robinson: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

As hard as it may be to believe, Robinson is the only player in MLB history to win both an NL MVP and AL MVP. He won the NL MVP in 1961 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, and then the AL MVP in 1966 while playing with the Baltimore Orioles.

Ernie Banks: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

“Let’s win two,” – Ernie Banks, probably. “Mr Cub” was the NL MVP in both 1958 and 1959, and ultimately made 14 All-Star teams during his illustrious career.

Hank Greenberg: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

One of the finest players in Tigers history, Greenberg won the AL MVP in 1935 and 1940. He was limited to just 19 games in 1941 and then was away serving in the Air Force from 1942-1944, possibly preventing him from winning the award a third time.

Dale Murphy: 2

Hall of Fame? No

While playing for the Atlanta Braves, Murphy won back-to-back NL MVPs in 1982 and 1983. Strangely enough, Murphy won one more NL MVP than another Braves icon, Henry Aaron.

Lou Gehrig: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

The best first baseman in MLB history, Gehrig won his first AL MVP in 1927, while playing for a Yankees team that many view as the greatest in the history of the sport. Nine years later, Gehrig homered 49 times, drove in 152 runs and posted a 1.174 OPS, earning him the 1936 AL MVP Award.

Hal Newhouser: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

One of just three pitchers in MLB history to win multiple MVPs, Newhouser won the AL MVP while pitching for the Tigers in both 1944 and 1945. It should be noted that the Cy Young Award didn’t exist until 1956.

Carl Hubbell: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

A star for the New York *baseball* Giants, Hubbell won the NL MVP in both 1933 and 1936. He’s one of just three pitchers in MLB history with multiple MVP Awards.

Rogers Hornsby: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Probably the best second baseman in baseball history, Hornsby won the NL MVP in 1925 and 1929. Amazingly, Hornsby finished second in NL MVP in 1924, when he finished the season with a .424 batting average and staggering 12.5 fWAR.

Mickey Cochrane: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Cochrane’s career lasted only 13 seasons, but he made every year count. Cochrane won his first AL MVP in 1928, while playing his home games at Shibe Park with the A’s. He would win a second AL MVP in 1934 with the Tigers.

Walter Johnson: 2

Hall of Fame? Yes

Johnson was the first pitcher to win multiple MVPs, winning the honor in 1913 and 1924 as a member of the Washington Senators. If the Cy Young Award had been named after anyone else, Johnson would have had a great case.

Of these 31 players, only eight aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Three — Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout — are locks once their careers conclude. Three others — Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Juan González — have been connected to PEDs, though Bonds and Rodriguez could still be elected in the future. The only two left are Roger Maris and Dale Murphy.

Harper isn’t like the man he’s often compared to in Trout, because if he retired today, he probably wouldn’t be elected to the Hall of Fame.

However, after 10 years, Harper’s 162-game average numbers include a .279/.392/.524 slash line with 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, 105 walks and a .916 OPS.

The former No. 1 overall pick does still have a ways to go. But his second NL MVP Award makes it clear — Harper is trending towards Cooperstown.


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