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Harper and Wheeler can do something the Phillies have only done once before

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Hint: it has to do with postseason hardware.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no EGOT, but it’s quite rare when one team features both their league’s MVP and Cy Young Award winner in the same season.

It’s only happened 19 times since 1957, not counting pitchers who won both the Cy Young and MVP award together. Consider the chart below, courtesy of Beyond the Box Score:

The Phillies are one of the few teams to have pulled off this rarity. In 1980, Mike Schmidt led the NL in HRs (48), RBIs (121), slugging (.624), OPS (1.004), and won his 5th Gold Glove...

... while Steve Carlton went 24-9 with a 2.34 ERA and led the league in innings (304.0!!!), strikeouts (286), and Fielding Independent Pitching (2.42). He also finished 5th in the MVP.

John Foley via Twitter: https://twitter.com/2008Philz

This year, the Phillies might do it again, as Bryce Harper’s MVP case and Zack Wheeler’s run to the Cy Young gains momentum.

Last night, Bryce Harper slugged his 18th home run of the season, the 250th of his career, and played an integral role in the Phils’ 4-run, come-from-behind 9th inning in the Phils’ dramatic 7-6 win over the Washington Nationals. Entering this weekend’s key series against the Mets, Harper is red hot.

  • He has a slash line of .305/.417/.563 on the season with 18 HRs and 63 runs scored, the only player in the National League with a slash line of .300/.400/.500+. He’s also stolen 12 bases.
  • His 165 OPS+ going into Thursday was the 2nd-best single season mark of his career, only behind his ridiculous 2015 MVP season when it was 198.
  • Bryce Harper is currently tied with Chris Taylor for 6th in the NL in fWAR (3.7), behind Bryan Reynolds (3.8), Max Muncy (4.1), Trea Turner (4.2), Ronald Acuna Jr. (who is injured 4.3) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (4.5).
  • He’s No. 1 in fWAR over the last 30 days and since the All Star Break.

Not only that, a number of those players listed above have some strikes against them in the MVP race, as Mike Petriello of MLB.com noted earlier this week as he laid out the case for Bryce Harper’s consideration. While Harper may not be the favorite at the moment, he’s certainly among the top three or five candidates and, with a strong finish over the last two months and a postseason berth for the Phils, could wind up atop the wide-open NL field.

As for Wheeler, his case grows stronger with each start he makes and each start Mets star Jacob deGrom misses.

  • It’s insane that Wheeler leads all NL players in Baseball Reference’s WAR, pitchers and position players, at 5.8. The next closest players are far back (Wade Miley, deGrom and Tatis Jr. at 5.0.)
  • His 5.7 bWAR for pitchers laps Miley’s 4.8 and Gausman/Woodruff’s 4.7.
  • He also leads by a wide margin in fWAR among qualified pitchers, but among all pitchers (including some injured guys who don’t have enough innings to qualify, the race is closer).
  • He’s tops at 5.1, with Corbin Burnes & deGrom at 4.9, Brandon Woodruff at 3.9.
  • He’s 8th in WHIP, 4th in BB/9, 9th in K/9, 1st in innings pitched, 1st in Ks, 1st in batters faced, and 1st in Fielding Independent Pitching 2.49.

Milwaukee’s studs, Gausman and L.A.’s Walker Buehler are all serious contenders as well, but at the moment, Wheeler feels like the leader in the clubhouse.

The Phillies are a top-heavy team, and if they’re going to continue to mount a charge to take the very winnable NL East away from the Mets and Braves, Harper and Wheeler will need to dominate.

If they do, both could end up with postseason hardware, something not many teams have done in the history of Major League Baseball.