Maybe Cody Bellinger was already going to win the MVP Award before Christian Yelich went down to a season-ending injury last night. I think he had a slight lead, if for no other reason than he’s (a) the best player on the best team; and (b) there is still some tendency for voters to not want to hand out the hardware to the same guy two years in a row.
But it was probably going to be a close vote. Closer than we thought even a week or two ago if the Brewers’ recent surge had pushed them past the Cubs and into the postseason, but still close even if the Brewers fell short.
Let’s see how they stacked up before Yelich went out:
Yelich: .329/.429/.671 (OPS+ 178), 44 homers, 97 RBI, 30 stolen bases, 328 total bases, bWAR 7.1, . He was leading the league in on-base percentage, slugging, OPS (obviously) and OPS+.
Bellinger: .306/.410/.639 (OPS+ 172), 44 homers, 106 RBI, 11, stolen bases, 322 total bases, bWAR 8.3. He leads the NL in WAR, but in no other statistical categories.
Not that they were the only two candidates. Anthony Rendon should get some consideration from voters. So too will Ketel Marte who has, quietly, due to the lack of exposure the Diamondbacks get, I suspect, had a monster season. Both Ronald Acuña Jr. and Josh Donaldson are also high on various leaderboards for the second-best-in-the-NL Atlanta Braves, with Acuña still having a shot at the 40/40 club, which tends to excite voters even if he’s a bit farther down the list of more substantive measures.
But with nods of respect to those guys, I really do think the race was going to come down to Bellinger vs. Yelich. Now that Yelich is down, and now that some of his statistical edges will be dulled, it’s likely Bellinger’s award.