In 2021, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper won his second National League MVP award, and first since 2015, when he was with the Washington Nationals.
He did it by cutting .309/.429/.615 with 35 home runs, 101 runs, 84 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.
According to MLB analyst Ryan Spaeder, he’s doing whatever it takes to make sure he’s heavily involved in the MVP race again in 2022.
No one has won back-to-back MVP awards since Miguel Cabrera did so for the American League’s Detroit Tigers in 2012 and 2013.
But Spaeder hinted that Harper could be a strong contender this year.
“Phillies Bryce Harper, MVP from the 2021 season to this season: Home run percentage – up; Shrinkage percentage – down; Average exit speed – increasing; Percentage of hard knocks – up; Line driving percentage – up; Ground Ball Percentage – Down; Flyball percentage – up,” he said via Twitter.
#Phillies Bryce Harper, MVP from the 2021 season to this season:
Percentage of home runs – up
Percent crossed out – down
Average exit speed – up
Percentage of hard knocks – up
Line driving percentage – up
Grounded Ball Percentage – Low
Flyball percentage – up
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) June 6, 2022
Harper is set to make another MVP award run
Now, these are all underlying statistics.
But the fact that Harper hit the ball hard and through the air frequently is very encouraging.
Numerous studies in recent years have concluded that hitting the ball hard and in the air is a recipe for success.
After all, you can’t homer by hitting the ball on the ground, and extra goals are much more difficult that way.
Ideal contact type, line drives and fly balls, are in Harper’s profile this year.
Given that his walks are actually down from 2021 (8.5% walk rate in 2022, down from 16.7% last season), his actual offensive output has been similar even with higher isolated power (.319 vs. .305), but once his patience starts to level off (and it likely will, since Harper has a career 14.9% BB), his OBP numbers will rise.
Can Harper win two MVP awards in a row?
We will know in a few months.