Harper named NL's Most Outstanding Player
Right fielder's breakout season honored by players
Following his breakout 2015 season, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was honored by his peers with the Players Choice Award for National League Outstanding Player on Monday night.
The Players Choice Awards, which the Major League Baseball Players Association started in 1992, are voted on exclusively by the players. The winners were announced in a live show on MLB Network.
"Definitely very fortunate to play this game every single day," Harper said on MLB Network. "I absolutely love doing it, and to have the respect of players in different clubhouses, in my clubhouse, it's just been a lot of fun this year. I couldn't have done it without the guys in my clubhouse, being able to have guys like Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Thornton, just to name a few. It's just been a great year and a lot of fun."
Harper beat out two other finalists, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Harper also was a finalist in the Player of the Year category, which includes hitters and pitchers from both leagues, but that honor went to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who also was the American League Outstanding Player. The other finalist was the Dodgers' Zack Greinke, the NL Outstanding Pitcher winner.
Harper, the only Washington nominee this season, is the first Nationals player to win NL Outstanding Player. In fact, the only other member of the Nats to take home any Players Choice Award was NL Comeback Player of the Year Dmitri Young in 2007.
After a tough, injury-plagued 2014, Harper broke out in a big way in his fourth big league season. Despite not turning 23 until Oct. 16, he played 153 games and hit .330/.460/.649 with 124 walks, 38 doubles, 42 home runs, 99 RBIs and 118 runs scored.
Harper led the Majors in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS while finishing second in runs and walks, third in average and tied for third in homers. He also was No. 1 in wins above replacement, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. His 9.9 WAR, per Baseball-Reference, was third-best all-time for a player age 22 or younger, behind only Mike Trout (10.8 in 2012) and Ted Williams (10.6 in 1941).
"I truly think it's always been there," Harper said. "I just think I was healthy this year. I think that's the main thing. I was able to stay on the field this year and not have those little nagging injuries, like sliding into third base and [hurting] my thumb or running into a wall in Dodger Stadium. Just trying to be as smart as I could out there and just play the game the right way. It just comes with the experience of knowing when to go hard, when not to go hard, and just being able to be smart about everything I do."
Players Choice Award winners in all categories receive grants from the MLB Players Trust, the charitable foundation created and run by players. The eight league winners get $20,000 each, and the two overall winners $50,000 each, to go toward a charity or charities they select.
Harper, who is nominated for multiple Esurance MLB Awards -- voting continues through Friday at MLB.com -- is one of three NL right-field finalists for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which will be announced in a one-hour show starting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Also on Tuesday, at 6 p.m. on MLB Network, the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce finalists for its awards, with Harper likely to be included for NL Most Valuable Player.