Bryce's heroics earn him 2022 NLCS MVP Award

Phillies' star delivers 3 game-winning knocks: 'There's no moment that's too big for him'

October 28th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper's teammates tossed out many labels for the Phillies’ superstar following his National League Championship Series-clinching home run on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Showman. MV3. The ultimate bro. A dude.

They can add NLCS Most Valuable Player to the list.

Harper received the honor after capping a remarkable series with a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of the Phillies' 4-3 win over the Padres in Game 5. He finished the series 8-for-20 (.400) with two homers, three doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored in five games.

Even more impressive, Harper delivered the decisive RBI in three of Philadelphia's four wins.

"I don't think anybody was surprised," said first baseman Rhys Hoskins. "This guy has a knack for coming up in the biggest moments. It's just what he's done his whole career, and we've seen it plenty of times."

Harper broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning of Game 1 on Tuesday night with a solo homer off Padres ace Yu Darvish that held up as the game-winning run. He had a pair of RBI doubles in Game 4 on Saturday night, the second of which gave the Phillies their first lead of the game -- one which they would not relinquish -- after trailing by as many as four runs.

For his latest trick, "The Showman" fought off multiple pitches from San Diego reliever Robert Suarez before driving the seventh pitch into the left-center-field seats. Harper's two-run homer turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.

“The opportunity to be able to be in that situation, I'm not there unless J.T. [Realmuto] gets that hit in [the previous] at-bat,” Harper said. “I told [hitting coach Kevin] Long before I walked up the steps, I said, ‘Let's give them something to remember.’”

Safe to say Harper did exactly that.

"As good as it gets," manager Rob Thomson said of Harper. "I mean, he's proved to me over and over and over again that there's no moment that's too big for him, and he's come through so many times. You just kind of expect it when he goes to the plate."

Harper became just the sixth player to hit a go-ahead home run with his team trailing in the eighth inning or later of a potential clinching postseason game. The last to do it this deep into the playoffs was the Blue Jays' Joe Carter, who hit his World Series-clinching walk-off homer against the Phillies on the same date 29 years earlier.

Despite the fact that it's something that had been done only five times previously, nobody in the Phillies' dugout -- or training room -- seemed surprised.

"Every time he comes up to bat in a big spot, he gets a knock,” said Zack Wheeler, who was in the trainer's room at the time. “He's ‘The Showman.’ That’s the reason why we signed him. The city loves him. You just can’t say enough about the guy.”

That said, Wheeler was perhaps the only person in the stadium, especially among those in a Phillies uniform, who didn't budge when the ball cleared the wall.

"The glass was shaking, it was pretty wild," Wheeler said. "But I was icing my knee. I was just laying there on my back. It was pretty cool. It's pretty cool watching the windows shake."

At the rate Harper is going, the windows at Citizens Bank Park may not be done shaking just yet.

Not only has Harper reached base safely in all 11 games this postseason, but he has a 10-game hitting streak that includes seven multihit games. His 1.351 OPS in the 2022 playoffs would rank as the eighth best in a single postseason in MLB history. He already has the most hits (18) in a postseason in franchise history.

"He just has that in him, where he just steps up in big moments. He’s always been a dude," said Wheeler, who was on the wrong end of a pair of Harper homers during his time with the Mets. "It’s always fun to compete against those guys, but it’s a lot more fun when they’re on your team."

Harper’s NLCS MVP Award joins a trophy case that already features two NL MVP Awards (2015 and ‘21) and the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award. He also won the 2018 Home Run Derby, is a seven-time All-Star and has a pair of Silver Slugger Awards.

But he’s not done yet.

“This is great, to be able to be the last National League team standing right now,” Harper said. “The Philadelphia Phillies, we're here. We're ready to go in that next round. We've got four more. We're going to enjoy this as a team, as a group, but we've got four more.”