The Baseball Writers Association of America and Major League Baseball announced the 2021 Most Valuable Player Award recipients on Thursday night. The National League honors went to Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper had previously won the NL MVP in 2015, as a member of the Washington Nationals.
Harper prevailed over Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. He received 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Six went to Soto; two to Tatis Jr.; four to San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford; and one to Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Trea Turner. (You can view the full voting breakdown by clicking here.)
Harper, 29 years old, hit .309/.429/.615 (179 OPS+) with 35 home runs, 42 doubles, and 13 stolen bases (on 16 attempts) during the regular season. According to Baseball Reference's calculations, Harper contributed 5.9 Wins Above Replacement. That happens to double as the second-highest amount of his career, fittingly trailing only the 9.7 Wins Above Replacement he recorded in 2015.
Harper is the sixth different player to win NL MVP over the last six years -- or, dating back to his last victory. Previously, the hardware had been awarded to Freddie Freeman, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Kris Bryant. Additionally, Harper is the first member of the Phillies to win MVP since Jimmy Rollins did it in 2007. Ryan Howard had previously won the award in 2006, giving the Phillies back-to-back winners.
Soto and Tatis Jr. each had seasons worthy of praise. Soto hit .313/.465/.534 (175 OPS+) with 29 home runs and substantially more walks (145) than strikeouts (93) in 151 contests. He was worth 7.1 Wins Above Replacement, again according to Baseball Reference's calculations. Tatis Jr., meanwhile, hit .282/.364/.611 (166 OPS+) with 42 home runs and 25 steals (on 29 tries) in 130 games. Tatis accumulated 6.6 Wins Above Replacement, but clearly that wasn't enough to persuade voters toward his direction.