"Bryce Harper is clear NL MVP race favorite over Fernando Tatis Jr." originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The past few days have been hard to ignore in the National League MVP race, where Bryce Harper has moved solidly into the lead.
Harper on Tuesday had another multi-hit game, doubling, reaching base three times and scoring the game-winning run in extra innings. Over the weekend, the Phillies went to New York and took two of three games from the Mets. Harper had a dynamic series with two extra-base hits, three RBI, a sliding grab that saved two runs and a run he manufactured by scoring from first base on a bloop to shallow left-center.
Meanwhile, the Padres were swept by the Cardinals team they're chasing in the wild-card race and lost again Tuesday. Tatis went 2 for 13 in St. Louis and had a dugout confrontation with teammate Manny Machado after Tatis nearly got himself ejected arguing a called third strike. Every game for the Padres is crucial and Machado's message was that it's about more than yourself.
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The Padres, losers of four in a row, are actually a half-game worse than the Phillies at 76-74. San Diego is 10-25 since August 11. People are going to get fired.
Harper is the MVP favorite at PointsBet with -250 odds. Tatis is next at +200, followed by Max Muncy at +2000.
MVPs typically come from playoff teams but it's an unusual year in the National League in which the top clubs like the Giants, Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals and Braves have been led by depth rather than a massive year from a player or two.
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The Phillies have very clearly been led by Harper and might be 7 to 10 games worse without him. His second half hasn't been pretty good or great, it's been the best in baseball. In 62 games entering Wednesday night, Harper's hit .350/.483/.743. Only four players since 1933 have hit .350/.480/.750 after an All-Star break: Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez and Ryan Howard.
In those 62 games, Harper has 25 doubles, 18 homers, 46 RBI, 47 runs scored, 55 walks and 50 strikeouts. He has reached base multiple times and/or homered in 13 of his last 16 games and 19 of his last 26.
Tatis has also had a very good second half, hitting .287/.374/.555 with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 33 RBI.
On the season, Tatis has the advantage on Harper in home runs, 39-33. Tatis has driven in 13 more runs and stolen 12 more bases. The Padres have not lost 25 of 35 because of Tatis, it's mostly because their pitching staff has been decimated by injuries. They are so depleted in the rotation that they're starting Vince Velasquez and gave four starts to Jake Arrieta.
Harper has Tatis in pretty much every other category -- batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, extra-base hits. He also has the momentum on his side.
It all matters. Individual performance, team success, timeliness, narrative. If the Phillies make the playoffs, Harper's winning the award. If they don't, he still probably will unless he falls on his face over the next two weeks and Tatis has a hot streak.
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.