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Harper voted NL Outstanding Player by fellow big leaguers

Nov 9, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT


An awards season that figures to elevate Bryce Harper’s dominant performance to new levels kicked off Monday night when the Nationals’ young star was selected as his league’s best player in 2015 by a group that may carry more weight than any other: his peers.

Harper was voted NL Outstanding Player of 2015 by fellow big leaguers as part of the annual Players Choice Awards, revealed Monday night. The 23-year-old beat out Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in voting among all major leaguers near the end of the regular season.

“I’m definitely very fortunate to play this game every single day. I absolutely love doing it,” Harper said in accepting the award on MLB Network. “And to have the respect of players in different clubhouses, in my clubhouse, it’s just been a lot of fun this year. I couldn’t have done it without the guys in my clubhouse. … It’s just been a great year. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Harper’s season, historic as it was, wasn’t quite enough to earn him MLB Player of the Year honors. That award went to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who beat out Harper and Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke in the same players vote.

There’s still a bit of an ironic twist to all this: The same players who voted Harper as MLB’s “Most Overrated Player” in an ESPN poll during spring training have now voted him the best player in his  league.

Harper earned the respect of his peers with a dominant season. The young right fielder hit an NL-leading 42 homers with 118 runs scored and an MLB-leading .460 on-base percentage, .649 slugging percentage and 1.109 OPS. He’s only the ninth player in history to hit .330 with 42 homers and a .460 on-base percentage, the first since Barry Bonds in 2004.

“I truly think it’s always been there,” Harper said of his breakthrough performance. “I just think I was healthy this year. I was able to stay on the field this year and not have those little nagging injuries of sliding into third base and [tearing] my thumb or running into a wall at Dodger Stadium. I was trying to be as smart as I could out there, and just play the game the right way. It’s the experience of knowing when to go hard, when not to go hard, and just being smart about everything I do.”

This is likely just one of several major awards Harper will win over the next two weeks. Already named recipient of this year’s Hank Aaron Award as the NL’s best offensive player, Harper also is a finalist for his first career Gold Glove Award (results will be announced Tuesday night) and is the overwhelming favorite to win his first NL MVP Award (results will be announced November 19).

Harper spoke glowingly about newly hired Nationals manager Dusty Baker and the first members of his coaching staff that have announced to date.

“I think you see that smile on my face,” he said. “I’m definitely very excited to have him. Being able to play for a guy like Dusty, somebody that’s been around the game for a long, long time … and being able to do the things with him and learn from him. Also learning from a guy in Davey Lopes, one of the best first base coaches in the game and one of the best baserunning coaches in the game also. I’m very excited for that. And also Mike Maddux. Being able to pick his brain about pitchers and seeing the tendencies that other pitchers throw with. I’m very excited to have the team that we do. We finally have an All-Star staff, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m very excited.”

  1. infideljack - Nov 9, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Bryce will exceed last year. he gets it and he will pick the brains of some of the greatest in MLB history.

    • veejh - Nov 10, 2015 at 8:52 AM

      I’d like to agree with this, but those numbers are going to be pretty tough to beat. I’m expecting a bit of a regression in BA, but I think his power numbers will stay about the same.

  2. Doc - Nov 9, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    Looks like Harps threw his former coaches under the bus. But that’s his privilege, as the other players say he’s the best in the the NL, and I think that they are right!

    • k286 - Nov 9, 2015 at 10:59 PM

      I don’t think he meant to show disrespect to the former coaches. He’s always been extremely complimentary of managers and coaches he’s played for. I think he was just excited about the new staff and that came out. I would guess he didn’t even realize he said it.

      Bryce definitely deserved this award. He deserved player of the year, too. Donaldson did NOT have a better season. But he’s 23. No need for him to win every award this year. He’ll have plenty of chances in the future.

    • Joe Seamhead - Nov 10, 2015 at 6:05 AM

      I didn’t read it that he was throwing his old coaches under the bus, only that he was showing his enthusiasm for the chance to learn under the new guys.

  3. naterialguy - Nov 9, 2015 at 11:16 PM

    Sign him now.15 years $400mil. (Not my money)

    • Candide - Nov 10, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      (Not my money)

      You don’t think those salaries come out of the $10 you pay for a beer? Or the 44% more you’ll pay for club seats next season?

      • nats106 - Nov 10, 2015 at 8:40 AM

        Candide, that’s only if you go to games, so maybe naterialguy attending games is immaterial. But I go to a lot of ’em. And you know, while I’m still pissed about how long time season plan holders have been treated this past year, I’d be OK with it to keep someone like Harper in a Nats uniform.

    • ehay2k - Nov 10, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Wow, very sad. He was only 29, makes you wonder what happened. Did he retire from baseball because of illness?

    • natsfan1a - Nov 10, 2015 at 3:33 PM

      I don’t think so. He had injury issues. It sounds like this was sudden and unrelated.

  4. vbnatsfan - Nov 10, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Any else enjoy this award that much more considering the same players that voted him most outstanding player also voted him most overrated player at the beginning of the year. That’s one way to shut them up.

  5. natsfan1a - Nov 10, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    Good on Bryce.

  6. janebeard - Nov 10, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Sounds like the players are seeing what WE see every day. And I agree: the best is yet to come! Congratulations to Bryce! May we keep him forever, First step: get rid of Papelgone.

    And in other news, Jose Reyes was arrested in Maui for grabbing his wife by the throat and shoving her up against a wall. He should have been arrested. Papelgone wasn’t. Should have been. This “boys will be boys” stuff is BS.





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