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Phillies slugger Bryce Harper claims second NL MVP award

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For the second time in his major league career, Bryce Harper has been named the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Harper collected 17 of 30 first-place votes to edge Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres in the balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

“This one just felt a little bit different,” Harper said. “I think being a little bit older, a little bit more mature, being able to have the teammates I do, have the family now that I do with my kids.”

AL MVP: Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani a unanimous choice

The Philadelphia Phillies slugger almost single-handedly kept his team in playoff contention by hitting .309 with 35 homers, a .429 on-base percentage and a major league-leading .615 slugging percentage. He also led the majors with a 1.044 OPS.

Among his many statistical accomplishments in 2021, Bryce Harper led the National League and tied for the major league lead with 42 doubles.
Among his many statistical accomplishments in 2021, Bryce Harper led the National League and tied for the major league lead with 42 doubles.

Harper, 29, also won a Silver Slugger award this season, which he also did in his previous MVP-winning season in 2015 as a member of the Nationals.

On the way to his MVP season, Harper had to overcome getting hit on the left cheek with a 96.9 mph pitch from Génesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 28, a ball that ricocheted off Harper’s left wrist.

He continued to play after the incident, but struggled considerably before finally going on the injured list from May 22 to June 5.

“I had to take a break and understand that my wrist was still hurt, my face and my mental state probably wasn’t the greatest,” he said.

He caught fire after returning, becomingame only the fourth outfielder in baseball history to have at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles and 35 homers in a season, joining Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Barry Bonds.

Harper becomes the fifth player in baseball history to win MVP awards with more than one team -- joining Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx.

As for the other finalists, Soto led the majors with a .465 on-base percentage -- including a .525 mark in the season's second half – in addition to tallying 29 homers and 95 RBI.

And Tatis led the league with 42 home runs, despite playing in only 130 games because of injuries.

Team success was not a factor in this year's balloting. All three of the finalists played on teams that missed the playoffs.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Phillies' Bryce Harper wins 2021 National League MVP award