Harper, Ohtani, Win MVP Honors

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The MVP winners for the American and National Leagues were announced on Thursday, some well-deserved accolades as we continue to reflect on the 2021 season.

Shohei Ohtani was voted unanimously by the Baseball Writers' Association of America as the American League MVP. ​​He’s also the fifth player to win MVP unanimously since 2000. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finished in second place, with 151 points, behind Ohtani’s 420.

The two-way sensation had an absolutely wonderful 2021 season - he slashed .257/.372/.592 including 46 home runs, a major league-leading eight triples, and 100 RBIs. He also went 9-2 as a pitcher, over 23 starts on the mound with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings pitched. He started the All-Star Game for the American League; he also earned his first ever Silver Slugger award last week.

Ohtani grew up idolizing Ichiro Suzuki - and now he joins Ichiro as the only Japanese-born MVPs in Major League baseball. He got all 30 first-place selections from the BBWAA voters; the two-way star is the 19th unanimous MVP since BBWAA began voting in 1931. Ohtani produced 4.9 Wins Above Replacement as a batter and 4.2 WAR as a pitcher this season. His 9.1 WAR overall was the best mark in MLB by a wide margin.

Ohtani produced 5.1 Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs) as a batter and 3.0 fWAR as a pitcher this season. The remarkable two-way star notched an overall 8.1 fWAR, the highest combined fWAR in the league by any player this season.

Ohtani is also the only player in Major League Baseball’s history with 30-plus home runs (he finished the year with 46) and 30-plus strikeouts (he ended up with 156) in a single season. The last Angels player to win MVP was Mike Trout, in 2019. He’s the fourth different Angels player to win MVP since 1979, including Don Baylor and Vladimir Guerrero.

The National League MVP award went to Bryce Harper, who kept the Philadelphia Phillies afloat during September, and brought his team close to a 22.6% chance of earning a spot in the postseason, according to FanGraphs. This is Harper’s second MVP award, earning it in 2015, where he was voted unanimously, while playing for the Washington Nationals.

Harper was given 17 of the 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America; Juan Soto received six first-place votes, and Fernando Tatis Jr. received two first-place votes. They finished second and third, respectively.

The 29-year-old is the fourth player to win multiple MVP awards before turning 30. Harper, who also won his second career Silver Slugger last week, was first in the National League in OPS (1.044). He finished the year with an incredible .309/.429/.615 slash line, including 35 home runs, 84 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. He also led the major leagues in doubles, with 42. Harper is the 7th player in MLB history to win the MVP with two different teams; he’s also the first Phillie to win the award since Jimmy Rollins in 2007.

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Quick Hits

According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the Giants are among the teams showing interest in free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos. ... USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the Astros are "being ultra aggressive" in their pursuit of free agent outfielder Starling Marte. ... Red Sox re-signed RHP Zack Kelly to a minor league contract. ... Red Sox re-signed RHP Caleb Simpson to a minor league contract. ... Red Sox re-signed OF/RHP Michael Gettys to a minor league contract. ... Mariners purchased the contract of OF Julio Rodriguez from Double-A Arkansas...Mariners purchased the contract of OF Alberto Rodriguez from High-A Everett. ... According to Yancen Pujols of El Caribe, the Rays have made a long-term extension offer to Wander Franco. ... Rockies re-signed C Elias Diaz to a three-year, $14.5 million extension. ... Cardinals signed INF Anderson Tejeda to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. ... Cardinals outrighted RHP Ljay Newsome to Triple-A Memphis. ... Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Mets have interest in signing free agent starter Steven Matz. ... Orioles re-signed RHP Marcos Diplan to a minor league contract. ... Mets hired Billy Eppler to serve as general manager. ... Braves purchased the contract of OF Drew Waters from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Braves purchased the contract of RHP Freddy Tarnok from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Braves purchased the contract of RHP William Woods from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Braves purchased the contract of RHP Brooks Wilson from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Rangers are showing interest in Marcus Semien.