Bryce Harper and Fernando Tatis Jr. are currently focused on the National League playoff race, as both the Phillies and the Padres are still in contention for a wild card spot, while the Phillies could also win the NL East. But the two superstars are also engaged in their own duel for the NL MVP Award.
The battle for NL MVP will likely come down to Harper and Tatis, who have distanced themselves from the rest of the field.
Harper plays like NL MVP during pennant chase
Harper recently overtook Tatis as the NL MVP favorite at most sportsbooks. FanDuel now lists Harper as the -130 favorite to win the award for the second time in his career.
Harper now leads the majors in slugging percentage (.624) and OPS (1.052). In more traditional stats, the Phillies outfielder has hit 33 homers and driven in 80 RBIs while hitting .313 on the year.
|NL MVP Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Bryce Harper: -130||Fernando Tatis Jr.: +110|
|Max Muncy: +2000||Juan Soto: +3000|
|Trea Turner: +4000||Freddie Freeman: +4000|
Those numbers only tell part of the story, however. Harper has heated up as the season has gone on, powering Philadelphia during its playoff run. In August, Harper hit .337 with 10 homers and an all-world 1.231 OPS. He’s been even hotter in September, hitting seven .362 with seven home runs and a 1.307 OPS.
While Harper has been surging, Tatis has arguably left a poor impression in the eyes of NL MVP voters over the past week. On Saturday, San Diego third baseman Manny Machado screamed at Tatis in the Padres dugout after the young shortstop slammed his helmet following a strikeout.
Tatis makes mental, physical errors over weekend
Tatis then played center field on Sunday. He dropped a bases-loaded popup in the first inning, then made an added mental mistake of throwing the ball home instead of getting an easy out at second base.
“Looking back, maybe you’d take the out at second,” San Diego manager Jayce Tingler told reporters after the Padres 8-7 loss to the Cardinals. “He came in ready to make a play in case they were tagging there, so that’s where his mindset was, to catch and go home. After the ball went on the ground, he just went with those instincts.”
The 22-year-old Tatis still rates as the +110 second choice for the NL MVP award, however. He has hit .285 with 39 homers and 92 RBI for the year, all while playing well at shortstop and in the outfield. He has also been a terror on the basepaths, stealing 25 bases while being caught just three times.
Harper holds all the momentum heading into the final two weeks of the season, but a strong finish by Tatis could still prove decisive in the NL MVP race. It’s unlikely for anyone else to throw themselves into the discussion, however. Max Muncy (+2000) ranks as the third choice after hitting 34 home runs and 86 RBIs for the Dodgers, while Nationals outfielder Juan Soto (+3000) leads the majors with a .459 on-base percentage and will garner some consideration from voters.