Now that Jacob deGrom has been lost in the second half of the season and Fernando Tatis Jr’s Padres have plummeted out the NL West race, Bryce Harper has suddenly catapulted into the driver’s seat for NL MVP. He’s been widely considered a one-dimensional power bat over the years that could be managed by opposing teams by help of the shift, but his recent ability to hit the ball where it’s been pitched has carried the Phillies.
Harper is now hitting .301 with 28 homers, 66 RBIs, 74 walks, and just 108 punch outs. He’s completely reinvented his approach at the plate, which has returned the six-time All-Star to MVP form.
Bryce Harper is a superstar again and deserves to win National League MVP for carrying the Phillies.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 6, 2021
Part of his resurgence, as I previously stated, is because of Harper’s willingness to defeat the defensive shift. We can argue until the sun goes down whether the shift is fair or even good for baseball, however the 28-year-old outfielder decided to take matters into his own hands before begging for a rule change. Bryce Harper is no longer a free-swinging power bat that needed complementary pieces to make the Philadelphia Phillies go. HE is the main ingredient, and the rest of that team needs him to stay afloat.
Philadelphia is now somehow just 1.5 games back of the first place Atlanta Braves, who have a plethora of bats to terrorize the National League East. Shortstop Dansby Swanson has hit 26 homers, Austin Riley has become a staple at third base, hitting over .300 with 29 homers of his own, and second baseman Ozzie Albies has been his usual menacing self. Atlanta has plenty of pieces around Freddie Freeman to put him in better position to lead the team. That’s not necessarily his fault, but the team around a player during his MVP season’s should matter.
What does Bryce Harper have that’s making this breakout season happen? If anything, baseball analysts could argue a struggling Andrew McCutchen hitting lead-off, a disappointing campaign from shortstop Didi Gregorius, and an abysmal bullpen, which together have made the Phillies’ presence near the top of the division nothing short of a Bryce Harper carry. And I argue that’s exactly what we’re seeing in Philly, and Bryce Harper is the MVP because of that. There’s simply no reason for the Philadelphia Phillies to be approaching first place other than No. 34 in red pinstripes.
It’s time for Mr. Harper to be recognized as a two-time MVP. For once, MLB writers, let’s get this right.