September baseball is upon us. It is a glorious time of year. With only 3 weeks left in the regular season, division races and Wild Card races are still too close to call. Fans across the sport will eagerly count down these final few weeks before playoff baseball finally arrives. Of course, this is one of the most exciting points of the baseball season. However, September will do more than tell us who is invited to the playoff dance.
This month will mark the final month for the MVP push in both leagues. The NL race, in particular, continues to be a back and forth contest. Two talented players will continue to fight for MVP votes, but only one can win the award. On one side is Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the other side is Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. Both guys have legitimate cases to hoist the hardware at the end of the year. Here, we will take a look inside the season-long battle of Belli vs Yeli.
He entered the 2019 season with high expectations surrounding him. Even so, Cody Bellinger has soared to new heights. Bellinger started the season scorching hot, batting over .400 through the season’s quarter mark. Now a week into September, he’s still hitting at an impressive .308 clip. One may argue that the on base percentage is even more absurd than the batting average. Cody holds a .412 OBP placing him second in the NL. Bellinger is also one of only five players to currently hold an OPS greater than 1.000.
Before this season, fans across baseball knew that Cody Bellinger could hit the baseball quite a long way. He clobbered 39 home runs his rookie season of 2017, but only hit 25 dingers last year. In 2019, Bellinger appears to be picking up where his rookie season left off. Through 136 games, he now has 44 homers, which puts him just one back of Pete Alonso’s total. With 25 homers at home and 19 on the road, Cody is proving that he can hit the ball out of any park in the MLB. Not surprisingly, those longballs have translated to a lot of RBI as well. Bellinger has 104 runs batted in, currently seventh best in the NL.
In 2018, Christian Yelich reigned supreme in the National League. The first year member of the Milwaukee Brewers took home MVP honors in a surprising season. Many wondered if Yelich could deliver an encore performance this year. Now a year removed from his MVP campaign, he has delivered once again. In terms of batting average, Yelich holds the edge over Cody Bellinger. He is currently fifth highest in all of baseball with a .326 mark through 124 games played. The on base percentages are quite similar for both players. Yelich’s .422 OBP is a few points higher than Cody’s with about 3 weeks left in the race. Likewise, while Cody Bellinger ranks third best in OPS across baseball, it is Christian Yelich who leads the entire league.
The power department doesn’t help to separate the two either. Both men have gone back and forth all season long when it comes to home runs. Bellinger currently holds the slimmest of leads at 44-43. However, Yelich finds himself several places behind Bellinger when discussing RBIs, strikeouts, and walks. Christian Yelich has driven in 93 runs this season, while striking out 114 times and walking 73 times. Meanwhile, Bellinger owns better numbers in all three of those categories as we approach the finish line. “Belli” leads “Yeli” by 11 RBIs, has 20 fewer strikeouts, and has walked 13 more times this year. The narrative doesn’t change with runs scored either. Bellinger crossed the plate 11 more times than Yelich so far in 2019.
So, who comes out victorious in the battle of Belli vs Yeli? The race may still be too close to call. That is why we still have 3 weeks left, and plenty more baseball to play. You can certainly make an argument for either player without sounding foolish. Like it or not, MVP voting often comes down to the success of the team overall. The Brewers have taken several steps back this season, while the first place Dodgers look primed for a third straight World Series appearance. Some of the numbers are too close to even differentiate between Belli vs Yeli. For that reason, team success will play a factor in the final MVP voting. In that department, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold the clear advantage over Yelich’s Brewers.
VERDICT: Cody Bellinger is the 2019 MVP
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