Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper won his second career NL MVP award Thursday, beating out Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. to give Philadelphia its first MVP since Jimmy Rollins in 2007.
Harper, who won his first MVP with the Nationals in 2015, garnered 17 first-place votes and 348 points. Soto collected 6 first-place selections, finishing with 274 points to beat out Tatís (244) for second place. Brandon Crawford and Trea Turner rounded out the top five for the NL while Shohei Ohtani took AL honors over fellow finalists Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien.
None of the finalists for either of the MVP awards played for teams that made the playoffs, putting greater emphasis on their numbers. The story of the NL MVP race was how Harper’s power at the plate stacked up against Soto’s ability to reach base.
Harper led the majors in doubles (42), slugging percentage (.615) and OPS (1.044) to go with 35 home runs. Soto was tops in walks (145) and on-base percentage (.465) while posting a .999 OPS and 29 home runs.
Both players surpassed Tatís in the MVP conversation with strong second halves. Among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances after the All-Star Break, Harper led the way with a 1.188 OPS and Soto was right behind him at 1.164.
While Harper was able to use the week off for some rest, Soto stayed busy as a participant in both the Midsummer Classic and Home Run Derby. He credited the derby for helping him find his power stroke in the second half.
Soto congratulated Harper in a post on Instagram shortly after the award was announced.
"Congrats to my former teammate [Harper]. Enjoy your second MVP, much love! Thank you for everything ... I'll see you next text year!!!!"
The recently turned 23-year-old Soto will have to wait another year to claim his first MVP award. He’s placed among the top 10 in NL MVP voting each of the last three seasons, each time getting closer to winning it outright. Though the award has alluded Soto so far, he’ll once again enter next season among the favorites to secure MLB’s most prestigious honor.