He did it while slashing .309/.429/.615 with 35 home runs, 101 runs, 84 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.
According to MLB analyst Ryan Spaeder, he is doing all the right things to ensure he is very much involved in the MVP race once again in 2022.
Nobody has won back-to-back MVP awards since Miguel Cabrera did it for the Detroit Tigers, in the American League, in 2012 and 2013.
But Spaeder implied Harper could be a strong candidate this year.
“Phillies Bryce Harper, 2021 MVP season to this season: Home run percentage – up; Strikeout percentage – down; Average exit velocity – up; Hard hit percentage – up; Line drive percentage – up; Ground ball percentage – down; Flyball percentage – up,” he said via Twitter.
#Phillies Bryce Harper, 2021 MVP season to this season:
Home run percentage – up
Strikeout percentage – down
Average exit velocity – up
Hard hit percentage – up
Line drive percentage – up
Ground ball percentage – down
Flyball percentage – up
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) June 6, 2022
Harper Is Poised To Make Another Run At The MVP Award
Now, those are all underlying stats.
But the fact Harper has been hitting the ball hard and in the air frequently is very encouraging.
Numerous studies performed in recent years have concluded that hitting the ball hard and in the air is a good recipe for success.
After all, you can’t hit home runs while hitting the ball into the ground, and extra-bases are much more difficult that way.
The ideal type of contact, line drives and fly balls, are up in Harper’s profile this year.
Since his walks are actually down compared to 2021 (8.5 percent walk rate in 2022, compared to 16.7 percent last season), his actual offensive output has been similar even with a higher isolated power (.319 vs. .305), but once his patience starts to stabilize (and it probably will, since Harper has a career 14.9 percent BB%), his OBP numbers will increase.
Can Harper win two MVP awards in a row?
We will find out in a few months.