Author: Matthew Budkofsky
The NL MVP award has been a revolving door of household names recently with sluggers like Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton and Kris Bryant taking home the last three. This year has been a much different story. No player in the National League has been able to create any real separation to win the award, but with just one week remaining in the regular season, the choice is clear: Christian Yelich is the MVP.
The 26-year-old is finally enjoying the breakout season many have been anticipating for years now. The Brewers were wise to scoop Yelich up during the Marlins’ fire sale, especially because Yelich is just now entering the prime of his career. The move has paid immediate dividends for the Brewers, as they try and clinch the franchise’s first post-season birth since 2011. The change of scenery seems to have helped Yelich’s performance as well, Yelich is on pace to set new career highs for just about every batting statistic. His .322 avg is currently best in the National League, and he’s also currently the league leader in OPS and SLG.
One major key to winning this award is finishing the regular season strong. Last week Yelich took home Player of the Week honors for the second time this month, slashing .545/.615/1.0981 for a 1.706 OPS including 12 hits. For those playing along from home, that’s twice as many as Javier Baez, who only mustered 6 for the week. None of this is any different from what Yelich has done for the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Yelich is hitting .356 with 20 HRs. The last player to do that was Ryan Howard in 2006, when he won the MVP with the Phillies. He actually has more games in the second half reaching base four times (4) than he does reaching base zero times (3)
Another critical characteristic of any MVP is performing in the clutch. The only player in the national league with a higher Win Probability Added (WAR) is Paul Goldschmidt. The only player with a higher OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position is Bryce Harper. Yelich’s OPS actually increases as the inning progresses. These stats all are a key part of how the Brewers were able to eclipse the 90-win plateau for the first time since 2011.
Simply put, this season there is nothing that Christian Yelich can’t do. He checks all of the boxes of a stud outfielder and has the makings to be a force in the MLB for a long time. Start spreading the word now that Yelich needs to be National League MVP this year. He really deserves it. Just ask Baker Mayfield.