After a stellar 2015 campaign, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been unanimously named the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Though it was not enough to lift the Nats into playoff contention, Harper’s season was one of the more memorable in recent D.C. sports history. He finished three points behind Dee Gordon for the NL batting title with .330, and led the league in myriad offensive categories:
- Wins Above Replacement for position players (9.9)
- Offensive WAR (8.9)
- On-base percentage (.460)
- Slugging percentage (.649)
- On-base plus slugging (1.109)
- Runs scored (118)
- Home runs (42, tied with Nolan Arenado)
- Adjusted OPS (195, or nearly twice the league average)
- At bats per home run (12.4)
Harper had 172 hits and 99 RBIs in 521 at bats over a career-high 153 games, finally avoiding nagging injury issues that had plagued him throughout his career.
Harper, 23, is the youngest MVP in history, roughly two months younger than Mike Trout was when he won it last year.
Harper is the first player in the 47-year history of the Nationals/Expos franchise to win such an award. The last time the nation’s capital saw a baseball player named MVP was in 1925 with Roger Peckinpaugh, when the Senators played in the AL – see Washingtonian‘s write-up on Peckinpaugh’s honor. Other D.C. sports MVPs include the Senators’ Walter Johnson (1913, ’24), Redskins’ Larry Brown (1972), Mark Moseley (1982 and the only kicker to ever win the award), Joe Theismann (1983), and Alex Ovechkin from the Caps, who won in 2008, ’09, and ’13.
This is far from the first award for Harper in his young and promising career, and it probably won’t be the last. He won the BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award in 2012. In addition, he has already claimed the Hank Aaron Award as the NL’s top hitter in 2015, as determined by a Hall of Fame panel and a fan vote, and he was named the NL’s Most Outstanding Player by the MLB Players Association. He also won his first Silver Slugger Award.