If The MVP Is Yelich Or Bellinger, There’s Only One Choice
Christian Yelich’s season has ended with a very painful foul ball off the kneecap. With 20 games left in the season, his knee is busted. Has his chance of winning the MVP suffered a similar fate?
“But he hasn’t played a full season!” I just heard someone screech.
Settle down. With 130 games, he has more than demonstrated who the best player in the National League is. Besides, 162 games isn’t the standard. Mookie Betts played in 136 games last year for the Red Sox and Josh Hamilton played in 133 in 2010 for the Rangers. Hell, George Brett played in just 117 for the Royals in 1980. His injury was one we don’t like to talk about… higher up than Yelich’s and on the other side of the body… and in the middle… little lower… yep… in there.
Assuming Yelich and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger are the top two, let’s look at the value to their teams. That is supposed to count for something, though I’ve never been sure for how much. It’s always seemed like value has been a consideration when you want to vote for the nicer guy.
The Dodgers have three guys with between 25 and 33 home runs. The Brewers have one. The Brewers have five starting pitchers with earned-run averages between 3.50 and 4.60. The Dodgers have seven starters under 4.10.
Sure, the Dodgers have already clinched a wildcard. But the Brewers were just a game out of the second wildcard spot when Yelich went down.
Think about Yelich’s consistency. Here are his batting average and OPS for each month of the season: .500/2.250 (four games in March), .333/1.125, .247/.935, .365/1.149, .352/1.112, .306/939, and .345/1.237.
For Bellinger, he started off as unstoppable force: .500/1.624 (four games in March), .416/1.347, .319/.998, .272/.967, .265/.932, .235/.918, .219/.765.
Sure, Bellinger had an April for the ages, but Yelich was great too. Bellinger was incredible, but after April, he slowly began to fade and Yelich stayed great. We don’t send players to the Hall of Fame for one good year. We shouldn’t award MVPs for one great month.
Season totals:. the two were tied with 44 homers when Yelich went down, but with 11 fewer games played by the Brewers’ right fielder. Yelich was one behind in doubles, nine behind in RBI and 23 points higher in average. Yelich is also tops in on-base percentage and slugging and stolen bases, though that’s a by-product of the Dodgers not needing to steal. Again, proof Yelich did more to help his team.
A couple of things to consider though… Defensively Bellinger wins hands down: 12 points higher in fielding percentage in 131 more chances, with 10 more assists and 16 more double plays according to mlb.com stats.
There’s also this: the Brewers’ schedule could really hurt the case that Yelich is indispensable. Of the 17 remaining games, 14 are against opponents with losing records. The other three are against the Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs meanwhile, face those same teams, but face the Cardinals seven times.
If Bellinger gets hot against AAA pitching and what’s left of the Padres, Rockies and Giants, he could easily post a .300 average with 50 homers and 125 RBIs, and that might be too much for sportswriters to pass up, especially those who haven’t really been paying attention.
Possible Advantage: Bellinger.
Look. They both seem like great kids and are the future of the game. But overall, one has been a little better every day over the course of the year and has been more important to his team.
Christian Yelich should be your National League MVP.