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.