There are plenty of numbers that make for exciting lenses through which to view Bryce Harper's 2015 season. There's that gorgeous .330/.460/.649 slash line, the 197 wRC+, the 9.5 fWAR. There's even just the knowledge of his birthday, and the fact that he put up these ridiculous stats at age 22.
You know this, though. We've had all offseason to marvel at the numeric glory of Harper's MVP year. But winter's not over yet, so let's look at that season through one more lens.
You know Harper was the most productive member of the Nationals' offense by any measure; you can probably guess that he was the most productive by a pretty considerable amount. However, what's significant is just how wide that margin became. Looking at the percentage of a team's wRC generated by individual players, Harper contributed more to his team's offense than anyone else in the past decade. To find someone responsible for a higher proportion of his team's production, you'd have to go back to the outrageous days of Barry Bonds circa 2002.
Harper's 151 wRC meant that he alone accounted for 21.9 percent of the Nats' total offense—more than a fifth of the team's production, just from Harper. Of course, that number can say just as much about the team as it does about the player; by definition, this figure links the two in a way that makes it difficult to say anything conclusive about the isolated output of either the collective or the individual.
There's a distinct difference between measuring a player's performance and measuring his share of his team's performance. But there's still something interesting here (in the way that random statistical meanderings seem interesting in the baseball-starved wasteland of mid-February), so let's put Harper's 21.9 percent in the context of the last ten years.
As you might expect with pitchers weighing down team totals, eight of the top ten seasons occurred in the National League. Additionally, Harper wasn't the only guy shouldering a particularly heavy load this year when it came to his team's offense. As shown above, 2015 accounted for three of the top four most impactful individual seasons of the last decade. Mike Trout's 20.8 percent of the Angels' total wRC isn't very surprising given the composition of the Angels and that, well, he's Mike Trout.
But Joey Votto's second-place spot—just behind Harper, at 21.2 percent of the Reds' total—stood out a little more. Of course, it isn't news that Votto is a remarkable player. However, to feature this prominently on the list owes quite a bit to the Reds' weak 2015 offense.
Most of the seasons on this feature similar stand-out performances on weak teams. Producing 20 percent of a team's offense requires a strong performance from the player in question, of course, but it tends to be helped by a less-than-solid performance from the rest of the team. Of the ten players, eight were on teams whose offense ranked in the bottom half of the league by wRC+. The only two exceptions? Pujols' 2009 Cardinals and Harper's 2015 Nationals.
Again, a player's share of his team's performance can look very different from his personal performance. But in Harper's case, the former helps to show just how great the latter really was. For one player to account for so much of a team's production is impressive, but to account for so much on a team that's above average is even more so.
. . .
Emma Baccellieri is a contributor to Beyond the Box Score. You can follow her on Twitter at @emmabaccellieri.