Yelich Wins Stacked MVP Race

November 27th, 2019 by Kevin

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Not since 2005 have we seen three different players hit 40+ homers and steal 15+ bases in a single season.  In that season 14 years ago, Alex Rodriguez, Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols all reached those milestones.  2019 saw fewer league-wide stolen bases than any previous season since the league expanded to eight teams in 1996.  Despite a historic lack of steals, three players managed to swipe at least 15 bags while slugging over 40 home runs.  Two of them actually doubled that stolen base mark with 30+.  Ronald Acuna, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich all had seasons that were among the most valuable this league has seen in recent times.  But only one of them could win the league’s MVP award.  In an extremely competitive vote, Darkhorses outfielder Christian Yelich is the 2019 DTBL Most Valuable Player.

Yelich suffered a broken kneecap injury in early September that cost him an opportunity to reach all sorts of unprecedented milestones.  Yet despite missing the last several weeks of the season, he still managed to post numbers every bit as good as any player in recent memory.  He hit .329 with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases, all three marks were among the top five in the league.  His 100 runs scored and 97 runs batted in were quite impressive as well, considering the missed time in September.  He is one of only six players in league history to have hit 40+ homers with 30+ steals and a batting average over .300.  Among those six, the only player to post a higher batting average was Larry Walker in 1997 (.366) and he benefited from playing half his games in Denver.  Yelich produced a 12.0 Batting PAR season, the third highest since 2005, just barely trailing Acuna this year and 2007 Alex Rodriguez.  Had he remained healthy, it is probably safe to assume he would have claimed the top spot on that list.

Yelich has been an excellent player his entire career.  But it was an offseason trade from Miami to Milwaukee prior to the 2018 season that seemed to push him to a new level.  He has now posted two consecutive MVP caliber seasons since joining the Brew Crew, winning the NL MVP in 2018 and finishing second for that award in the DTBL a year ago.  A third round pick by the Darkhorses in 2014, Yelich has been a fixture in their outfield since.  He has a career batting average of .304 with 134 home runs and 111 stolen bases.  He will only need a couple more seasons like the previous two to catch Matt Holliday and Hanley Ramirez as the best player in franchise history.  Shockingly, this year was the first time he was named to a DTBL All-Star team.  But he made his first appearance a memorable one, slugging a grand slam to lead the National Division to victory and was thus named the game’s MVP.  His special two year run has also vaulted the Darkhorses into championship contention.  The Darkhorses have finished runner-up to the Kings the past two years and have had the league’s best offense both seasons, in large part because of Yelich.  They have finished in the top half of the standings every year since Yelich’s rookie campaign and appear primed to make another run next season.

The vote for the MVP award was as competitive as any we’ve seen in recent years.  With three players having historically strong years, this isn’t too surprising.  Yelich only received four of the ten first place votes.  But what ultimately decided things in his favor was receiving second place votes on all of the other six ballots.  That computed to 82 total points, 11 ahead of Acuna.  The Jackalope outfielder, and Rookie of the Year recipient, also received four first place votes, but only three seconds.  Curiously, he was left off one ballot entirely.  That alone didn’t cost him the award though since he finished more than 10 points behind Yelich.  As a reminder from the ROY post, Acuna set a new high water mark for Batting PAR since 2005.  Komodos first baseman Bellinger was a top three choice on all ten ballots, but only two of them were first place nods.  The NL MVP had impressive five category totals in his own right, but fell a bit short of Yelich and Acuna in steals.  Bellinger finished third with 62 points.  I only have the full award voting results dating back to 2005, but this is the first time since then that three different players have received at least 60 points in the MVP vote.  Needless to say, there was a bit of a gap after those three.  Coming in fourth was the AL MVP and perennial DTBL MVP candidate, Mavericks outfielder Mike Trout.  Amazingly, Trout has now been an All-Star and a MVP vote recipient in every season of his DTBL career, which dates back to 2012.  And perhaps even more amazing, he has only won this award once, in 2014.  His consistent greatness should never be ignored.  He has posted a Batting PAR of at least 7.6 every season of his career.  Trout appeared on nine of the ten ballots and accumulated 21 points.  There was a tie for fifth place between a couple of slugging third basemen:  Moonshiners’ Rafael Devers and Jacklope’s Anthony Rendon.  They finished with eight points each.

Click here to view the full voting results.

That concludes the 2019 DTBL awards announcements.  Usually, this MVP post is my final one of the year.  But that will not be the case this year.  With the decade about to end next month, I plan on doing some sort of 2010s decade recap in December.  At the very least, it will include an All-Decade Team and perhaps a look at the league’s best teams over the past 10 years as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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