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Harper points to health as key to MVP season

Nov 19, 2015, 10:00 PM EST

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For a player to have a season worthy of an MVP award, many things have to go right, and for Bryce Harper in 2015, just about everything did. He set career-highs in almost every statistical category and led the league in runs, homers, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS. This was all at the age of 22.

Harper flashed greatness in his first three years in the league, but injuries beset him particularly in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 he was finally healthy for a full season and Harper believes that was the biggest key to him realizing his potential at such a young age.

“You want to play every single day for your team. All I wanted to do this year was stay healthy and be on the field every single day that I could,” he said. “I knew that if I could do that, then I’d be winning this award at the end of the year. Just having the opportunity to play every single day was a lot of fun this year.”

Ever since Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 years old, he was predicted to do great things. He was a phenom among phenoms, the LeBron James of baseball. And just like LeBron, Harper has lived up to expectations.

That includes expectations set on his own. Winning an MVP was a dream Harper had long before he was anointed as the next all-time great.

“You go back to playing ball when you’re a kid, playing ball when you’re younger in the backyard, dreaming of World Series, MVPs and doing everything you can to help your team get to that point. I was able to do that this year, win MVP. I’m just very blessed and very thankful to win this award,” he said.

Harper had one of the greatest individual seasons of all time, but his Nationals fell far short of expectations by missing the playoffs and going 83-79. Given all that he and his teammates went through, Harper said it will be easy to turn the page and look forward to the 2016 season where he and the Nats will hope for much better results.

“I’m going to enjoy this with my family tonight and enjoy this with my team tonight. But tomorrow is a new day, new obstacles are coming. A new year is coming. Next year is right here. All I want to do is win ballgames. All I want to do is win a World Series,” he said.

On a conference call with members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Thursday night, Harper even shared part of what is already motivating him for 2016, the fact people are doubting the Nationals after their disappointing showing this past season.

“I hope everybody in the book dismisses us,” he said. “Because that just means we’re going to go out there to do everything we can to prove people wrong.”

Having just turned 23, Harper may be an MVP already, but it’s clear he has plenty more he hopes to accomplish.

  1. Drew - Nov 19, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    What a moment for the young man and the young franchise. Bryce, thanks for making us all proud.

    I know we’re looking at more than a century of baseball, but I was surprised at how many greats won back-to-back MVPs.

    If we’re charitable and include the cheater’s ’92-’93, presumably before he cheated, 13 have accomplished the feat.

    The back-to-back winners:

    1. Miggy
    2. Big Hurt
    3. Maris
    4. Mantle
    5. Berra
    6. Newhouser
    7. Foxx
    8. Pujols
    9. Voldemort
    10. Murphy
    11. Schmidt 
    12. Morgan
    13. Banks

    Newhouser won in ’44 and ’45, when a lot of big leaguers were at war. Imagine what Teddy Ballgame would have done if he didn’t spend five prime years in military service.

    • jfmii - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:55 PM

      I am fairly certain Bonds was not juicing in 92 and 93.

  2. lesatcsc - Nov 19, 2015 at 10:32 PM

    Way to go Bryce. I worried all you would ever show us was flashes of your incredible skills. I worried for nothing. Truly an awesome performance. The MVP award is richly deserved.

    As an aside, did anyone try to watch the Thursday Night NFL game of the week? I could only tolerate a couple of minutes of last week’s garish unis; tonight I could watch any. One glance was enough. When did the NFL decide that dressing players like clowns was clever. Have they never seen the film from MLB’s foray into the wild unis back in the 70s. Everytime I see a vintage picture from those days I feel sorry for the players. Next week they should have Carrie Underwood sing “Bring on the Clowns” as the opening song.

  3. Whack-A-Mule - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    I continue to marvel at the season Mr. Harper put together,
    all the more wondrous because of the complete and consistent
    lack of any credible hitter in the line-up behind him.

    He was pitched around constantly, as witness 124 BB’s and a
    pitches-thrown-as-strikes <40%.
    Amazing patience and knowledge of the strike zone.

    Oh, what would we give for a full season of credible batsmen
    in the #4 and #5 slots ?

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