Washington Nationals Analysis: Just How Good Was Bryce Harper Last Season?

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Bryce Harper had a historic season in 2015, one that should be compared to other great seasons by Hall-Of-Famers Babe Ruth and Ted Williams

Hank Aaron Award. Greatness in Baseball Yearly Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player Awards. Players Choice National League Outstanding Player Award. NL Player of the Month. Gold Glove Finalist. Silver Slugger. All-Star Starter. Unanimous National League Most Valuable Player. Bryce Harper did it all for the Washington Nationals in 2015, and his trophy case will certainly tell as much. The 23-year old right fielder broke out in the most dominant of fashions, and the best is hopefully yet to come. Just how historic was his record-setting season?

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Harper finished the season hitting .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs, 99 RBIs, 118 runs scored, 124 walks, and 81 extra base hits in 153 games, earning him a WAR of 9.9 (Baseball Reference). He led the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored, and WAR. Amongst all MLB players, Bryce did not rank lower than fourth in any of the previously mentioned statistics other than RBIs (99) and games played (153).

Major League Baseball first started recording official statistics on a large scale in 1901. Since then, more than 10,000 players have played professional baseball. Out of all of them, Harper is the only the second player ever under the age of 25 to hit at least 40 homers and record 118 walks. The first player to do it was three years older, and just so happened to be some guy named Babe Ruth. Oh, and it was 95 years ago (1920) when Ruth hit 54 home runs and walked 150 times. 

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Arguably the best season ever recorded by a 22-year old, Bryce was only the second player of that age to earn an OPS+ of 195 or higher and a WAR above 9.5. The first was Ted Williams, 74 years ago. During the 1941 season, Williams hit a record .406, had an OPS+ of .235 and a WAR of 10.6. Only six players under the age of 25 have ever recorded a season with a slash line equivalent to or greater than Harper’s, and all five of the other players own a plaque in Cooperstown.

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No one doubted the value of Bryce Harper’s historic season, therefore making his unanimous selection for MVP a no-brainer. With baseball analysts around the league already predicting how he’ll follow up in 2016 to defend his crown, Harper has made his entrance. His 2015 season was one for the ages, and with Bryce yet to hit his prime, it is something we may have to start getting used to.

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