The Milwaukee Brewers once again have Christian Yelich playing in MVP form. But what are his actual chances of winning the award two years in a row?
Most years, a player like Christian Yelich hitting .332 with 41 home runs, 24 stolen bases, and a 1.113 OPS is a slam dunk MVP selection. But the Milwaukee Brewers slugger has some serious competition this year from the Dodgers Cody Bellinger.
It’s been quite the race between Yelich and Bellinger all season, and even MLB has been playing into it with some promos of both of them.
First of all, that’s outstanding marketing by MLB, which is something that they’ve lacked the past several years.
But more importantly, this has been a two horse race virtually all season. All 30 of the first place votes are going to go to either Yelich or Bellinger. So who has the upper hand?
Yelich vs. Bellinger
Let’s take a look at the stats for both of these players. A bolded stat means he leads the league in that category.
Yelich: .332/.424/.689, 25 doubles, 41 home runs, 89 RBIs, 24 stolen bases, 1.113 OPS, 180 OPS+, 297 TB
Bellinger: .317/.414/.667, 26 doubles, 42 home runs, 100 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 1.082 OPS, 179 OPS+, 297 TB
As we can see, these two are putting up very similar production levels, with Yelich just ahead of Bellinger for OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ for the league lead. Yelich has a strong lead in batting average and stolen bases, while trailing in only a few categories; doubles, home runs, and RBIs.
By the stats, Yelich appears to have the edge over Bellinger. The home run race is what most people are watching, and that’s going to continue to come down to the wire.
Making The Playoffs
However, there is one clear edge that goes to Bellinger right now, and that is that his team is currently settled into a playoff spot that they won’t fall out of anytime soon. They’re up in the NL West by 20 games. Voters like picking MVPs that make the playoffs. If your team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s very difficult to win.
The Brewers are currently on the outside looking in for their division and will need a big run in order to play in October this year. That big run is also likely predicated upon huge production numbers from Yelich. This Milwaukee Brewers offense practically revolves around him.
What Are Yelich’s Chances?
At the moment, he’s sitting in second place behind Bellinger. Yelich needs to stay healthy down the stretch, and get on another hot streak at the plate.
Should these two remain fairly similar statistically down the stretch, the edge likely goes to Bellinger since his team is winning more. However, the argument could be made that the Dodgers win the NL West this year even without Bellinger. But without Yelich, the Brewers would not even be close to a division title, which would make Yelich the more ‘valuable’ player, but not many voters think that way.
A lot can happen in the final month of the regular season. We saw that last year when Yelich was farther down in the polls but caught fire in September and carried the Brewers to the division crown, winning him the MVP in the process. He may have to get another division crown this year in order to win MVP again.
It’s unfortunate that it could come down to whether or not the Brewers win the division or even win the Wild Card for Yelich to get an unrelated award, but that’ll likely be the case. When the stats are this close, voters have to split hairs, and team performance and a division title make a difference in their minds.
If the Milwaukee Brewers are able to win the division and make the playoffs, and Yelich and Bellinger remain statistically similar, it’s going to be a tough decision for MVP voters this year.