Will Phillies slugger Bryce Harper be named the National League’s most valuable player? You’ll have to tune in Thursday to find out.
Harper is one of three players in the National League vying to be crowned the National League’s MVP, which will be awarded at 6 p.m. on the MLB Network. The other finalists are Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
The 29-year-old slugger already captured the Silver Slugger award last week, becoming the first Phillies outfielder named the National League’s best hitter since Bobby Abreu in 2004. It’s the second time he’s been awarded the Silver Slugger — the first was in 2015 with the Washington Nationals. That same year, he went on to be named the National League’s most valuable player.
This year, Harper led the league in slugging (.615), doubles (42), and on-base plus slugging (1.044). As my colleague Scott Lauber reported, he’s only the fourth outfielder ever with at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles, and 35 homers in a season, joining Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Barry Bonds.
Harper also has another thing going for him: giving out the award will be Phillies legend and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, a three-time MVP during his 18-year career.
This is the second-straight year the league has turned to previous winners to present the awards, which produced a cool moment earlier this week when Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench announced Jonathan India was the National League rookie of the year, the same award Bench won in 1968.
In the American League, the three finalists for MVP are California Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and two Toronto Blue Jays stars — outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Marcus Semien. Handing out the American League award will be Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas, himself a two-time MVP.
Harper and the other five finalists are scheduled to join for a live interview during the program leading up to the announcements.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream:
MLB MVP Awards
When: Thursday, Nov. 18
Time: 6 p.m. Eastern
TV: MLB Network
Hosts: Greg Amsinger, Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds, Carlos Peña
Streaming: YouTube TV, FuboTV, DirecTV TV Stream, Sling TV (all require a subscription)
More coverage of the Phillies and Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper already has a compelling Hall of Fame case. Harper’s numbers through 5,000 plate appearances were closer to Barry Bonds’ than any player since integration in 1947.
Harper is obviously a great player, but columnist David Murphy wonders how you build a team around a superstar in a sport in which the stars matter least.
Harper will be back next season, thanks to the 13-year contract he signed with the Phillies in 2019 (which will keep him in Philadelphia through 2031). So will the original Phillie Phanatic.
Schedule of upcoming MLB awards
Heart & Hustle: Friday, Nov. 19, 6 p.m., MLB Network
The Heart & Hustle Award is given to an active player “who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” Each team has one nominee — the Phillies nominated utility infielder and super sub Ronald Torreyes.
“People say, ‘Why do you love Torreyes?’ He’s a ballplayer,” manager Joe Girardi said in June. “That’s what he is. He really understands the game. And I trust him wherever I put him. I don’t ever worry about him. I can put him at third, short, second, first, left, center, right, and I know he’s prepared. That’s a luxury for a manager. I don’t know where we’d be without him.”
MLB Comeback Player of the Year: Monday, Nov. 22, 6 p.m., MLB Network
The award is given to one player from each league who overcame adversity to “return to a high level of performance.”
One player to watch is Baltimore Orioles slugger Trey Mancini, who hit 21 home runs this season after missing the entire 2020 season fighting stage 3 colon cancer.
In the National League, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who sat out last season due to COVID-19 concerns and returned with an All-Star-season, batting .304 and 18 home runs. Last week, the three-time World Series champion announced he was retiring after 12 years in the league.
All-MLB Team: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 6 p.m., MLB Network
It’s the third year for the All-MLB Team, which you can think of as an All-Star selection based on a player’s performance over the course of the entire season (since the All-Star Game occurs in the middle of the season).
The finalists for all the positions were announced earlier this month, and the Phillies have three players up for consideration: catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielder Bryce Harper, and pitcher Zack Wheeler. Fans can vote on MLB.com once every 24 hours for the winners through 5 p.m. Friday.
Edgar Martínez Award: Monday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m., MLB Network
Until the National League adopts the designated hitter, Phillies fans won’t care much about who wins the Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, which has been given to the best DH in baseball since 1973.
The frontrunners appear to be California Angels star Shohei Ohtani and two-time winner Nelson Cruz, who played for both the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays last season.
Other 2021 MLB award winners
Executive of the Year: Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations, San Francisco Giants
Hank Aaron Award: Bryce Harper, Phillies (NL) and Vladimir Guerrero, Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
Relievers of the Year: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers (NL) and Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox (AL)
Silver Slugger: Bryce Harper and 17 other players, nine from each league (full list here)
Platinum Glove: Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (NL) and Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (AL)
Rookie of the Year: Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds (NL) and Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays (AL)
Manager of the Year: Gabe Kapler, San Francisco Giants (NL) and Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays (AL)
Cy Young winners: Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers (NL) and Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays (AL)