Soto finishes as runner-up in NL MVP race

November 19th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Following a surging second half of the season, slugger Juan Soto finished in second place for the 2021 National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Soto was edged out by former teammate and current Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper in the voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Thursday. Harper previously won the award as a member of the Nats in 2015.

In what was a closely matched battle throughout the season, Harper earned the honors with 348 total points (17 first-place votes, nine second-place, two third-place). Soto received 274 points (six first-place votes, 11 second-place, seven third-place), followed by Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres (244 total points, two first-place votes), Brandon Crawford of the Giants (213 total points, four first-place votes) and Trea Turner -- another former teammate -- of the Dodgers (185 total points, one first-place vote).

Soto finished his fourth Major League season leading all players in on-base percentage and walks with a slash line of .313/.465/.534, a .999 OPS, 111 runs, 157 hits, 29 homers, 95 RBIs and 145 walks -- the most in a full season since Barry Bonds set the record with 232 walks in 2004. He turned around a slow start with a strong performance in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, and went on to hit .348/.525/.639 with a 1.164 OPS and 18 dingers after the break.

Soto put up these head-turning numbers all while just 22 years old. He joined Hall of Famer Ted Williams as only the second player to lead the bigs in on-base percentage twice before their age-23 seasons.

One of the reasons this year’s race was so closely matched was because the finalists had standout offensive performances across the leaderboards. Soto (.313) was in contention for his second consecutive NL batting title until the final weeks of the season, finishing second in the category to Turner (.328) and ahead of third-ranked Harper (.309). Soto (.465) also edged out Harper (.429) in OBP, while Harper (1.044) topped Soto (.999) in OPS. Harper (.615) and Tatis (.611) led the NL in slugging percentage, and Tatis paced the NL with 42 home runs.

After finishing second in the Rookie of the Year race in 2018, Soto has received MVP votes for the past three seasons. Last year, he finished fifth. This season, Soto won his second straight Silver Slugger Award and earned his first All-Star selection.