Ruth had just two seasons in which he thrived at the plate while pitching regularly. He batted .300 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs in 1918 while going 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA for Boston, then hit .322 with 29 homers and 113 RBIs in 1919 while going 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA. Ruth was sold to the Yankees that December and made just five mound appearances in his final 16 seasons.
Harper received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 points from a separate panel. Washington outfielder Juan Soto was second with six firsts and 274 points, and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was third with two firsts and 244 points.
Harper overcame getting hit in the face with a 97 mph pitch from Génesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 28 to bat .309 with 35 homers for Philadelphia. The 29-year-old led the major leagues with a .465 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS, tied for the lead with 42 doubles and had 84 RBIs.
But the Phillies missed the playoffs for the third straight season since he signed a $330 million, 13-year contract. He earned a $500,000 bonus for winning MVP.
Harper was voted a unanimous MVP with Washington in 2015. He became the fifth player to win MVPs for different teams after Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.