MLB’s most valuable players…and how valuable are they?

Sep 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) wears the team home run jacket in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against New York Yankees in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) wears the team home run jacket in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against New York Yankees in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bryce Harper. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Harper. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /

 3. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

2021 salary: $27.538 million

2021 value: $17.672 million

Difference: -$9.866 million

The Phillies didn’t tie up Harper for all those years just to produce on the field. There was never a chance that he would generate even $25 million worth of on-field value to his team. They signed him to produce what he did for them in 2021 plus sell tickets, jerseys and other Phillies-related stuff.

In that sense, Phillies management is more than satisfied with the return on investment it received from Harper.

Make no mistake, the on-field contribution was awfully strong. Harper led the team in most offensive categories of significance: plate appearances (599),  hits (151), doubles (42), home runs (35), RBIs (84), walks (100), all three slash line numbers (.309/.429/.615) and total bases.

At 1.044, he led not only the position and his team but all of MLB in both OPS and Adjusted OPS+ (179). That’s noteworthy because seven right fielders registered an OPS+ in excess of 135 in 2021.  It was a deep position and Harper led them all.

He falls to second in overall value at the position because Soto, his divisional rival, won their personal statistical duel. As we will illustrate shortly, that was a battle of the titans.