- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2021

When Major League Baseball announced its National League MVP candidates, it was clear that the award would either go to a Washington Nationals outfielder or a former Nationals outfielder.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s votes were released Thursday evening, and Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper was picked as NL MVP for the second time of his career.

Harper, who played for the Nationals from 2012 to 2018, beat out Washington right fielder Juan Soto and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Harper had his best offensive season since his MVP campaign, hitting .309 with 35 homers, 42 doubles and a league-leading .615 slugging percentage.

The 29-year-old received 17 first-place votes and 348 total points. Soto was second with six firsts and 274 points, with Tatis finishing in third.

Harper last won the MVP in 2015 in his age-22 season. After a good, but underwhelming, start to his highly anticipated career, Harper broke out with an outstanding season, slashing .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs.

Despite being the runner-up, Soto has now finished in the top 10 of the MVP race for three straight seasons. He finished fifth in 2020 and ninth in 2019. He was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2018.

This past season, in his age-22 campaign, Soto led all NL position players in Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement at 7.0, hitting .313 with an NL-best .465 on-base percentage. He smacked 29 home runs and drove home 95 runs. He also led the majors in walks with 145 — a total that’s been reached by only 11 other players in MLB history.

The decision for the AL MVP wasn’t as difficult, as Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was unanimously voted as MVP.

Ohtani led the league in Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement at 9.1 — nearly two wins higher than any other player on the Junior Circuit. Ohtani hit 46 homers — along with 26 doubles and eight triples — drove home 100 runs and stole 26 bases. On the mound, the right-hander in his age-26 season went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings.

Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finished second, while Blue Jays infielder Marcus Semien was third.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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