Bryce Harper, the no.1 overall pick of the 2010 Draft, was unanimously elected the National League MVP last night after a monster season in D.C. in 2015 which saw Washington's 22-going-on-23-year-old right fielder put up a .330/.460/.649 line with 38 doubles, 42 home runs and 118 runs scored in a career-high 153 games and 654 plate appearances.
In an interview on the MLB Network after he was officially announced as the NL MVP, Harper said it was the ability to stay on the field all season that stood out for him as the key to his success after he dealt with injuries over the last two seasons.
"I talked to Ian Desmond before the season and I told him I wanted to play 155 games," Harper said, "and I was able to go out there and play over 150 game this year and I think that was huge for me."
"You want to play every single day for your team," Harper told reporters including NatsInsider.com's Chase Hughes in a conference call after he was named MVP.
"All I wanted to do this year was stay healthy and be on the field every single day that I could," Harper said.
"I knew that if I could do that, then I’d be winning this award at the end of the year. Just having the opportunity to play every single day was a lot of fun this year."
Harper was the youngest unanimous selection in major league history. He said that meant a lot to him.
"Very grateful for the Writers' Association," Harper said. "For them to be able to do that, for them to be able to vote for me, and be able to just really put my name on the ballot, being up against two guys that had great years as well, but very happy to be able to bring that MVP back to D.C."
"At the beginning of the year, that was my goal from day one, to absolutely win a World Series and get to the playoffs, but number two, to be able to win an MVP and do the things I could to help my team win every single day and I'm very grateful for that and I can't thank them enough for voting for me and doing the things they did for me this year."
A knee injury which eventually required surgery in 2013 and a thumb injury in 2014 limited Harper's at bats, but with a full season's worth in 2015, he finally, somehow, lived up to the hype which preceded his selection as the top pick in 2010.
Harper said it was important for him to win the MVP and bring the award back to the nation's capital.
"I want to be able to do the things I can for my city and my town and that's D.C. and do the things every single day I can to give back to them and that's playing hard every single day, that's doing the things I can to win ballgames and I love my team very much and I love the city of D.C. and I'm very grateful to bring back that MVP trophy to them."
The talk the last few months, after Harper's big campaign, has been about what the future holds. He signed a major league deal out of the draft, and he's under team control through 2018. What happens after that?
Is there a long-term deal in Harper's future that will keep him in Washington?
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo addressed the subject when he met with reporters at the GM Meetings last week.
"We want Bryce to be here for a long long time," Rizzo told reporters, including Washington Post writer James Wagner.
"He’s a guy I’ve seen play forever it seems. I’ve seen him play since he was 14. He was a guy we signed, drafted and developed. He’s turned into an MVP-type player for us. We love the guy. We’ve got him locked in for the near future and we certainly would love for him to be a National for life. …. I think he likes being in D.C. I think he loves playing for the Nationals. He loves the city of D.C. I think that bodes well for us."
Harper, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, addressed the subject when he spoke to reporters after last night's announcement:
"Definitely very excited to be a part of the Nationals organization. Being able to play in that stadium, being able to play for this city, this town, being around this city — it’s such a great place to play, it’s a monumental town, everything happens there, and I think baseball is up-and-coming. I think the things we’ve done the last couple years have been a lot of fun for us. I think as a team, as an organization we’ve grown into an elite team and I think we’re just gonna keep getting better and better. Mike Rizzo’s done a great job with this team, and the hiring of Dusty Baker — I mean it’s going to help put us over the top. So definitely excited about the up-and-coming years and very excited to further my career as a National. But I have a couple more years in D.C. and hopefully at the end of that, we can do what we can and maybe be a National for life, we’ll see."