Juan Soto loses out to Bryce Harper for NL MVP


Juan Soto won't be taking home his first MVP title in 2021 after all.

One of three MVP finalists, Soto fell short of the point total needed to claim the honor, losing out to Phillies slugger Bryce Harper, who won his second NL MVP Thursday night.

Harper, 29, becomes the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to win MVP with two different franchises. He won his first with the Nationals in 2015.

Soto fell 74 points short of Harper's 348 points. Submitted before the start of the postseason, ballots are cast by two writers in each league city and calculated by rewarding players with 14 points for each first-place vote, nine for second and eight for third. The recipient of the highest point total wins the award. Harper received 17 first-place votes to Soto's six (274 points). Soto finished 30 points ahead of Fernando Tatis Jr. (244), the third NL MVP finalist.

Soto was coming off a banner year in 2021, in which he posted the second-best OPS (.999) of his career, which was second only to his 1.185 OPS in 2020. He led the NL in WAR (7.0) and led the Majors in walks (145), intentional walks (23) and on-base percentage (.465). Soto finished second in batting average (.313) to Trea Turner (.328).

Soto finished the season with 29 homers, 20 doubles and 95 RBI thanks to a surge in the second half, during which he reached base in more than half of his plate appearances (.525 OBP). He batted .348 with 18 homers and a 1.164 OPS in that 72-game post-All-Star break stretch while drawing 87 walks, a figure only five other hitters surpassed in the entire season.

Harper led the Majors in slugging (.615) and OPS (1.044) while hitting 35 homers this season, 19 of which came during a scorching-hot streak from August on. Harper drove in 84 runs for the Phillies this season and led both leagues with 42 doubles. From Aug. 1 to the end of the season, Harper maintained a .330 average and a 1.194 OPS with 46 RBI in that 58-game stretch. He finished the season with a .309 average and .429 on-base percentage, drawing 100 walks on the season.

Harper joins Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx as the only players to win the award with multiple franchises, with Robinson being the only player to ever win it in both leagues, in the NL with the Reds in 1961 and in the AL with the Orioles in 1966.

Harper is the eighth Phillies player to win MVP, joining Jimmy Rollins (2007), Ryan Howard (2006), three-time winner Mike Schmidt (1980-81, '86), Jim Konstanty (1950) and Chuck Klein (1932). He is also the 12th multiple winner of the National League MVP.

In a bizarre twist, this was the first time in history that none of the MVP finalists in either league played for teams that made the playoffs. In the American League, neither Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), nor Marcus Semien (Blue Jays) made the playoffs.

Ohtani won AL MVP in a landslide, taking in 420 points to Guerrero's 269 and Semien's 232.