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NL MVP: The Best and Worst Stats – Who You Got?

Being named the Most Valuable Player is the highest distinction a player in any league can win. Let’s take a look at the National League finalists.

Christian Yelich by Ian D’Andrea is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NL MVP: The Best and Worst Stats – Who You Got?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The Most Valuable Player is the highest distinction a player in any league can win. Echoing through arenas, ballparks, and rinks around the globe, the M-V-P Chant is a rallying cry of support for a star. The MLB MVP award is no different. To be crowned Most Valuable Player of America’s Pastime is a great honor, one that stays attached to player’s name long after they’ve played their final out. 

Let’s look at this year’s National League finalists. 

*- denotes National League Leader

** – denotes MLB Leader

Nolan Arenado -3B, Colorado Rockies

2018: 156 Games, 104 Runs, 175 Hits, 38 Doubles, 38 HRs, 110 RBIs, .297//.374/.561, .935 OPS, 25 SBs, 122 Ks, 5.6 WAR.

Best Stat: 38 Home Runs

Worst Stat: .297 Average. 

Nolan Arenado is nasty. The dude just seems to play every game with everything he’s got. If Arenado hasn’t left it all out on the field, has he really even played in that game? The dude is ready to sacrifice everything for a slow roller down the third base line. Hell, he’ll field a ball hit to short if he has to. The guy refuses to quit. He’s a gamer, a baller, a behemoth in the game. The dude is NASTY.

All that being said, this feels like a hat tip finalist nod. 

The interesting thing here is that Arenado plays in Colorado, 81 of his games being played at Coors Field, and for a player of his caliber and skill, you would think his numbers would be a bit more inflated. 

I’m in the opinion that guys like Arenado, Todd Helton, and Larry Walker all had the natural talent and ability to put up insane numbers. We all saw a bit of an edge playing for Colorado, but the altitude aide ballpark isn’t an aid, if anything it could be a hindrance. 

Regardless, Arenado had a fantastic season, but I think he comes up short in 2018. 

Christian Yelich – OF, Milwaukee Brewers

2018: 147 Games, 118 Runs, 187 Hits, 34 Doubles, 7 Triples, 36 Home Runs, 110 RBIs, .326*/.402/.598, 1.000 OPS, 22 SBs, 135 Ks, 7.6 WAR.

Best Stat: .326, 1.000 OPS

Worst Stat: Doesn’t Play In Miami Anymore

How did Christian Yelich like playing in front of actual people outside of Miami? If the 2018 season is any indication, I think he likes it. A LOT.

Christian Yelich was a revelation for Milwaukee and was the only former Marlin to exceed expectations in 2018. Yelich had career numbers for runs, hits, triples, home runs, RBIs, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and how often he was legitimately happy. 

However, it was September that cemented his name on the MVP hardware.

In the midst of a close playoff race, the Brewers were jockeying to take down the National League top seed and the NL Central top dog Chicago Cubs. Not an easy task. Beginning the final month 5 games back, the BrewCrew had work to do. 

Yelich came into the month hitting .317, which is obviously very good, especially after hitting .400 for the month of July and evening out during August. But Milwaukee needed someone to drive them, they needed somebody to get hot. Yelich answered the call, and by the end of the month, the Brewers overtook the Cubs and would eventually advance to the NLCS. 

In that month, Yelich hit an insane .370/.508/.804, with an OPS of 1.313. Let that sink in. In 92 at-bats, Yelich hit 10 home runs, knocked in 34 RBIs (just over 1 RBI a game) and collected 34 hits (also more than 1 a game). To say that Yelich was locked in during September is an understatement. The guy was a walking Panic Attack for opposing pitchers. That’s how good he was in September, and that’s how good he was for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. 

Javier Baez -SS/2B, Chicago Cubs

2018: 160 Games, 101 Runs, 176 Hits, 40 Doubles, 9 Triples, 34 HRs, 111 RBIs*, .290/.326/.554, .881 OPS, 167 Ks, 21 SBs, 6.3 WAR. 

Best Stat: 111 RBIs.

Worst Stat: 29 Walks.

Javy Baez is one of the most exciting young ballplayers in the MLB. There’s a level of childlike ferocity that takes to the field each time Baez suits up for the Cubs. I mean, he’s a master at tagging runners. That’s been well-documented and rightfully so. He’s insane. 

But it’s at the plate where Baez left some question marks going into the 2018 season. 

After winning a World Series with the Cubs in 2016, Baez was slated to be the everyday second baseman for the Cubs in the 2017 season. That’s when his bat became a problem. Javy Baez strikes out a lot, and his numbers jumped from 108 strikeouts in 2016 to 144 in 2017. Baez was a free-swinging hitter, much like Yasiel Puig, a guy who swings at damn near anything hoping to connect. 

In 2018, Baez connected a lot more than he missed, finally becoming the offensive threat analysts touted him to be. 

However, the patience of Javy Baez remains elusive. 29 walks is an insanely low number for a guy who played in 160 games. Only 5% of Baez’s at-bat end in a free pass, whereas 27% end in a strikeout. So, why should I be afraid of Baez if I’m an opposing pitcher? He’s not patient, I don’t even have to pitch him carefully. I just have to fool him.

That being said, it was Javy Baez, not Kris Bryant, not Anthony Rizzo, or even John Lester who was the top player on the Powerhouse Chicago Cubs. 

Speaking of the Cubs, the Cubs offense was often anemic, posting a 26-25 record in one run games, and with the Cubs a one run game means legitimately one run. Baez was the only thing moving the offense forward at certain points. If the Cubs were in the driver’s seat for the majority of the season, it’s thanks to Baez. He singlehandedly kept the Cubs in the top spot for a long, long time. 

So Who Wins?

If you had asked me two weeks into September, I would have said that Javy Baez was my MVP pick. However, it is undeniable how solid and how good Christian Yelich was for Milwaukee in 2018, but specifically down the stretch. 

Without Yelich’s play in September, the Brewers don’t make it to NLCS. That’s value. That’s why he’s your 2018 National League MVP. 

Final Call: Christian Yelich. 

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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