Mike Schmidt does not have an MVP vote but it can only help Bryce Harper’s chances to have the Hall of Famer in his corner.
Schmidt, in a guest column for the Associated Press, said Harper is his pick to win the MVP.
“I’ve got one clear-cut answer for you: Bryce Harper is THE most valuable player to his team in the National League,” Schmidt wrote. “He’s the clear-cut MVP if the definition is truly Most VALUABLE Player.”
Harper is known to not read anything about himself during the season, even high-praise from the franchise’s greatest player. But Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Harper would be pleased to hear what Schmidt said.
“I think it’s fantastic and I think it probably means a ton to Harp coming from Mike Schmidt,” Girardi said. “I mean, Mike Schmidt, talk about the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s a name that comes up. For him to recognize what Bryce is doing is pretty special. I would applaud him for it.”
Harper entered Thursday leading the majors in OPS (1.051) and leading all National League position players with 6.4 Wins Above Replacement, which would be the highest by a Phillies position player since Chase Utley posted 8.2 WAR in 2008 and 2009.
In the final 10 games, Harper needs five runs scored, one double, and eight walks to join Babe Ruth, H. Earl Averill, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Barry Bonds, Bobby Abreu, and Lance Berkman as the only outfielders with 100 runs, 40 doubles, 30 homers, and 100 walks in a season.
“The National League MVP is Bryce Harper, who on Aug. 1 put his team on his back, became the best player in the league, and stole it,” Schmidt wrote.
Schmidt grappled in his column with the definition of “valuable” and what it means to be the “most valuable.” Other teams, Schmidt wrote, could survive without their MVP candidate. But the Phillies would be lost without Harper, Schmidt said.
“Bryce Harper is an enigma. You either love him or hate him, as they say,” wrote Schmidt, who won three MVP awards with the Phillies. “He plays every day and he plays hard. He loves pressure and is not afraid to fail, and he puts “it” out there — “it” meaning he knows he’s the center of attention and enjoys being “the man.” Most players don’t have that kind of talent, or don’t want the pressure.”
“I can sum this all up: He is today’s Pete Rose with power.”
Wheeler for CY Young?
Perhaps the Phillies could ask Steve Carlton to write a column about Zack Wheeler, who has positioned himself as one of the finalists for the Cy Young Award.
Wheeler struck out nine in six innings on Wednesday and entered Thursday leading the majors in both strikeouts (240) and innings pitched (206.1) while posting the NL’s fifth-lowest ERA.
“I think those are extremely important,” Girardi said of Wheeler’s innings pitched and strikeouts helping his award chances. “Wins are kind of hard, because a lot of that a lot of days depends on your offense, right? So it just shows you how dominating he has been.”
Max Scherzer has the lowest ERA and WHIP in the NL and has been dominant since joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have given Milwaukee two elite arms at the top of the rotation and Kevin Gausman helped the Giants clinch an unlikely postseason berth.
The Cy Young field is crowded and Wheeler still has two more starts remaining to make his case. But his workload, which dwarfs every other pitcher in the NL, might be the best boost for his argument as the season began with so much uncertainty about how many innings pitchers could handle after last summer’s 60-game season.
“I definitely think so,” Girardi said. “Not knowing how many innings your guys were going to be able to give you and now it’s very possible that he can get up to 220.”
The Phillies placed Matt Moore on the injured list after the left-hander tweaked his back Wednesday on a swing during batting practice. He was replaced on the roster by left-hander Christopher Sanchez, who can fill Moore’s multiple innings role. ... J.T. Realmuto was out of Thursday’s lineup, which Girardi said is likely the catcher’s final off day this season. ... Connor Brogdon threw live batting practice and remains a candidate to be activated from the injured list. ... Kyle Gibson will start Friday night.