He’s not even three decades old, but Bryce Harper’s legacy is still worth examining
On Thursday, Harper collected his second Most Valuable Player Award before his age-29 season, being named 2021 National League Most Valuable Player.
Harper had a tremendous year in 2021, his first great season as a member of the Phillies. He led the National League in slugging, OPS, and doubles. It was his second 300/400/600 season (Batting average, on-base percentage, slugging).
Since 1900, only 46 players have had as many as two seasons with a .300 batting average, .400 on-base, and .600 slugging.(STATHEAD via Baseball-Reference.com)
With a second MVP, The Bearded One joins exclusive company.
Players Who Won the Rookie of Year Award and Two MVP Awards
Only seven players have won both the Rookie of the Year Award and at least two Most Valuable Player Awards in Major League Baseball:
- Willie Mays
- Frank Robinson
- Johnny Bench
- Cal Ripken Jr.
- Albert Pujols
- Mike Trout
- Bryce Harper
Each of the players listed above is a legend, and all of them who are eligible are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pujols and Trout will be someday.
Two teams: two MVP awards
When Harper left the Nationals following the 2018 season, he missed out on a World Series championship the following year. But some solace arrives with his historic second MVP award.
It remains to be seen how the second half of Harper’s career will go. Will he just sort of bounce along like Fred Lynn did after having great seasons as a young player? Will Harper struggle with injuries like Ken Griffey Jr. or Andre Dawson? Or will he put together a great run of seasons in his 30s like Frank Robinson was able to?
Harper hasn’t done enough yet to put him in the automatic Hall of Famer category, though he does rate in the Top 40 among our all-time greatest right fielders.
With his second MVP, Harper joins a small group of greats to win the honor multiple times. He will have as many MVPs as Miguel Cabrera, and he’ll have won awards with two teams. He’ll also have his 30s to add to his numbers. If he were to average 34 homers per season for his next ten years, Harper would reach 600 homers at age 39. If he averaged just 25, he would get to 500. Both marks are coveted and would earn him status among the great sluggers of all-time.
Harper won’t turn 30 until next October. The former 19-year old Rookie of the Year, and now two-time MVP winner, has time to build on his accomplishments.