WASHINGTON -- It's not hard to figure out why Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a finalist for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's National League Most Valuable Player Award. He had a season that brought to mind prime years from some of the greatest hitters in history.
Harper 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), all while playing outstanding defense in right field.
Harper, who turned 23 on Oct. 16, is the only player in Major League Baseball history with at least 42 home runs, 124 walks and 118 runs scored at age 22 or younger, and is the youngest player in MLB history with at least 42 home runs and 124 walks in a season. The previous youngest was Babe Ruth, who hit 54 home runs and had 150 walks in 1920 at the age of 25.
Harper is one of three finalists for the award, along with Joey Votto of the Reds and Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs. The winner will be announced tonight at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. No Nationals or Expos player has won the MVP. Harper is also a candidate for Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player in the Esurance MLB Awards.
Harper said staying healthy was the reason for his success in 2015.
"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."