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Bryce Harper Wins National League MVP Award

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    AP

    Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was named the National League's Most Valuable Player as expected Thursday.

    Harper, the favorite to win the award, was a unanimous selection, receiving all 30 first place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    He became the youngest unanimous MVP winner in baseball history. Harper turned 23 last month, after the regular season ended.

    The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year led the majors in slugging percentage and on-base average. He hit .330 with 42 home runs and 99 RBIs.

    Harper is the first player from a Washington franchise to win an MVP -- no one on the original or expansion Senators or Nats had done it -- and he is the fourth-youngest player overall to win an MVP, with Stan Musial, Johnny Bench and Vida Blue also 22 but not quite as old.

    Harper put aside his injury problems from recent seasons and put up huge numbers. The banged-up Nationals didn't do nearly so well, starting the season as World Series favorites and finishing far out of contention.

    Harper missed a lot of games in 2013 after a pair of run-ins with walls, then was sidelined for much of 2014 following a headfirst slide that hurt his thumb.

    This year, Harper reported to spring training with one goal -- the only number he focused on was games played.

    Harper finished with a .649 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base average. He went into the final day of the regular season with a chance to win the NL batting title -- Miami's Dee Gordon edged him -- and scored a league-leading 118 runs.

    The three-time All-Star also continued to draw fans in the Washington area and beyond. His constantly changing hairstyles are always getting attention and the selfie he took in the outfield before a game at Nationals Park this season boosted his popularity even more.

    His hitting, though, is what makes him so special.

    "You could see throughout the season what this guy meant to this ballclub. And don't forget, this guy carried us throughout the whole season," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday.

    "Every team that we played circled his name and said, 'This guy's not going to beat us.' And with that said, he beat a lot of teams. So it was a remarkable season. As we said at this time last year, I thought that `Harp' was just scratching the surface of what he can be."

    Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished second in the voting, and Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto finished third.

    Josh Donaldson took the AL MVP, earning the honor after helping boost the Toronto Blue Jays back into the postseason for the first time since 1993.