Harper becomes youngest unanimous MVP winner, takes NL award
NEW YORK (AP) Bryce Harper has become the youngest unanimous MVP winner in baseball history, capturing the NL award during a season in which his Washington Nationals missed the playoffs.
Harper turned 23 on Oct. 16, after the postseason had already started.
Harper got all 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in results announced Thursday.
The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year led the majors in slugging percentage and on-base average. The outfielder hit .330 with 42 home runs and 99 RBIs.
Harper became the first player from a Washington franchise to win an MVP – no one on the original or expansion Senators or Nats had done it.
Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was second in the voting and Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto was third.
The AL MVP was to be announced later Thursday.
Harper put aside his injury problems from recent seasons and put up huge numbers. The injury-plagued Nationals didn't do nearly so well, starting the season as World Series favorites and finishing out of contention.
Harper missed a lot of games in 2013 after a pair of run-ins with walls, then was sidelined for much of 2014 following a headfirst slide that hurt his thumb.
This year, Harper reported to spring training with one goal – the only number he focused on was games played.
Harper finished with a .649 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base average. He went into the final day of the regular season with a chance to win the NL batting title – Miami's Dee Gordon edged him – and scored a league-leading 118 runs.
The three-time All-Star also continued to draw fans in the Washington area and beyond. His constantly changing hairstyles are always getting attention and the selfie he took in the outfielder before a game at Nationals Park this season boosted his popularity even more.
His hitting, though, is what makes him so special.
''You could see throughout the season what this guy meant to this ballclub. And don't forget, this guy carried us throughout the whole season,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said this week.
''Every team that we played circled his name and said, `This guy's not going to beat us.' And with that said, he beat a lot of teams. So it was a remarkable season. As we said at this time last year, I thought that `Harp' was just scratching the surface of what he can be.''