Bryce Harper is the National League’s most valuable player for the second time during his major league career.

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.”

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He was the Philadelphia Phillies’ slugger, hitting.309 and 35 homers. His team also had a.429 on base percentage. The Phillies had a major league-leading 6.15 slugging percent. With a 1.044 OPS, he also led majors.

Harper, 29 years old, also took home the Silver Slugger award, as he did last year in his MVP-winning campaign in 2015. 

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 played on after the incident but continued to struggle before finally being placed on the injured’s list, which ran from May 22 to Juni 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 is now the fifth baseball player to have won MVP Awards with multiple teams, joining Frank Robinson and Barry Bonds as well as Jimmie Foxx, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, and Alex Rodriguez.

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. 

Tatis was league leader with 42 homers, even though he played in just 130 games as a result of injuries. 

This year, team success wasn’t a factor. Three of the three finalist played for teams that did not make it to the playoffs. 

Contributing to The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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