As of August 16, Christian Yelich has 39 home runs on the season. Cody Bellinger just knocked in number 40. Bellinger has 135 hits to date for the year. Yelich has 134. Bellinger’s batting average today is .317; Yelich’s is .329. But, Yelich has only 85 RBIs to Bellinger’s 93. So what’s the big deal? Oh yeah, they are vying for NL MVP.
Yelich won the NL MVP last year. Bellinger was NL Rookie of the Year in 2017. Yelich would like to retain his title. Bellinger would like to take it away. Here’s our take with about six weeks of the season to go, if each stays healthy.
Christian Yelich’s claim to MVP
Yelich’s batting average stands out as a step above Bellinger. While he hasn’t been utilized outside of right field much, he can play all three outfield positions which makes him versatile and valuable. He has a nominal three errors in 2019 thus far. He’s the only right fielder to have thrown in two double plays so far this year.
While it shouldn’t come into account, Yelich, 27, did earn NL MVP last year. This could work for him, or against him, as he really needs to come up with an even better record than last season to defend his title, especially since he is facing such stiff competition.
As a reminder, Yelich’s 2018 numbers included 36 home runs; he’s topped that. His batting average was .326; that’s where is hovering. He had 187 hits with 110 RBIs. OK, he does have a little work to do here, but it is certainly doable.
The case for Cody Bellinger
Having just belted out his 40th home run, the now 24-year-old Bellinger now has one more than Yelich. He has spent most of his time in right field and only has two errors. He leads the league in outfield assists at 10.
Bellinger has played a vital role in the Dodgers 82-42 w-l record to date, with a .662 PCT, well above any other team in the league and a virtual tie with the AL’s Yankees.
Bellinger’s 2017 Rookie title vote was unanimous. He hit 39 home runs with 97 RBIs. He had 128 total hits with a .267 batting average. With five more RBIs this year, he can top his rookie stats.
It is doubtful anyone could possibly come close to the Dodgers in the NL West, with the D-Backs and Giants each 20 games out. The Brewers, however, are only two games behind the Cubs, and one behind the Cardinals in the Central Division.
Are there any other NL-MVP possibilities?
Sure. While Yelich and Bellinger have been battling each other’s swagger since before the All-Star break, they don’t have a lock on the MVP contest. While the title shies away from pitchers, Bellinger’s teammate, Hyun-Jin Ryu is having quite the year. Ryu currently sits with 12 wins to only 2 losses on the year. He has thrown 121 strikeouts in 142.2 innings, with a WHIP of 0.932.
Justin Verlander was the last pitcher to win an MVP award, in the American League in 2011. Ryu has the best chance of coming close since, but obviously, he has stiff competition.
Another possible contender includes Mets’ first baseman Pete Alonso with a .264 batting average to date and 39 home runs. He has 91 RBIs, with a .264 batting average. But, since Alonso currently is rookie status, he’s better positioned for Rookie of the Year. And, that’s a different story.