MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Harper credits amazing season to staying healthy

Nationals slugger misses out on batting crown, shares HR title with Arenado

Harper credits amazing season to staying healthy

NEW YORK -- Outfielder Bryce Harper had a season for the ages in 2015. He said being healthy had a lot to do with him being Mr. Everything for the Nationals.

Although he missed out on winning the National League batting crown, which went to Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (.333), Harper, who hit .330, led the NL in home runs (42, tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado), runs scored (118), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.649). No wonder he is the leading candidate to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award.

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"Staying healthy puts good numbers up," Harper said. "If you stay healthy and try to do the things that you can to win ballgames and do what you can for your team, that's all that matters."

Teammate Jayson Werth has marveled at how Harper has developed since he arrived in the big leagues in 2012.

"He was awesome. I'm really proud of him. He had a great season -- MVP-caliber season," Werth said. "You don't see that too often. I've been playing how many years now? I've seen one [Jimmy Rollins], but Harper has been great. He has come a long way in a short period of time. He is going to be a big part of this club going forward. He has been a pleasure to play with."

Harper's sliding grab

Although he has accomplished a lot on the field during the season, Harper wished the Nationals could have made it to the postseason. Almost everybody thought the Nationals would go at least to the World Series this year, but the team finished in second place behind the Mets in the NL East and is going home for the winter.

"You look back on the year and you wish you were in the postseason," Harper said. "That's the main goal. It's a bummer we didn't get there this year. As a team, as an organization, we thought we had one of the best teams in all of baseball. I really believe if we come in with the mentality, thought and passion we know how to play with, we'll be one of the best teams coming in next year. We have to keep grinding, keep doing what we are doing, have a great offseason, and hopefully we are going to make a few acquisitions and we'll see where we are at."

Harper believes the team needs another left-handed bat in the lineup and another right-handed bat to hit in front or behind him.

"Hopefully, we can do that. That would help us out and put us over the top," Harper said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.