To win Best Major Leaguer -- the premier Esurance MLB Award -- Harper beat out Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (who won the BBWAA's American League MVP Award on Thursday) and the Cubs' Jake Arrieta, who won MLB Awards for Best Starting Pitcher and Best Breakout Player, as well as the BBWAA's NL Cy Young Award.
Harper put up numbers comparable to those from some of the greatest players in the history the game. Harper hit .330 and led the NL in home runs (42, tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado), runs scored (118), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.649).
He 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's 42 home runs are the second-most most by any left-handed hitter age 22 or younger, joining Eddie Mathews (47, 1953). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harper (22 years, 335 days) became the sixth-youngest player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs in a season. All this was done without having much protection in the lineup.
Harper had a lot of great games in 2015, but the game that truly showed Harper's greatness occurred May 6 against the Marlins, when he slugged three home runs in a 7-5 victory. He became the fourth Nationals players -- Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman are the others -- with three homers in a game.
In the second inning, off right-hander Tom Koehler, Harper drove the ball 393 feet, with an exit velocity of 101.5 mph, as measured by Statcast™, to left-center field. He then smashed Koehler's 0-1 offering in the third inning into the right-center-field second deck at Nationals Park. That ball was measured by Statcast™ to have traveled 442 feet, with an exit velocity of 104.7 mph.
The third homer, in the fifth inning, traveled even farther, with Statcast™ measuring it at 445 feet into the right-center-field second deck, with an exit velocity of 108.6 mph.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five components, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.
Individual awards were presented for 22 separate categories, including Best Major Leaguer, Everyday Player, Bounceback Player, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer. Winners were also recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan and Fan Catch.
Manager and Executive winners will be announced at the Winter Meetings in Nashville in December.
Nominees were judged on their bodies of work from the entire year -- from Opening Day through the postseason -- and selected after a careful review of all 30 clubs. Winners in all 24 categories receive a Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) trophy.