After winning the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2018 with a .326/.402/.598 batting line, there was plenty of room for Christian Yelich to take a step back offensively and still remain an elite player. Instead, the 27 year old used all the regression talk as fuel to somehow get even better in 2019.
Even though his season ended on September 10th when he fractured his kneecap on a foul ball, Yelich still finished with arguably the top offensive season in franchise history. In 130 games and 580 plate appearances, he hit .329/.429/.671 with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases, posting (along with Ronald Acuna, Jr.) MLB’s first 40/30 season since Ryan Braun did it in 2012. He won his second-straight batting title — and the second batting title in the history of the Milwaukee Brewers — and finished first in the National League with a 174 wRC+ and tied for first with 7.8 fWAR.
Among all-time Brewer seasons, Yelich finished with the highest slugging percentage, highest OPS, highest wRC+, and highest Isolated Power mark. And as we’ve come to expect from the MVP, he often puts the team on his back and comes up with the biggest plays in the most important moments. Per the Baseball-Reference Play Index, there were four games this year where Yelich himself posted a Win Probability Added of greater than 0.500:
Yelich goes 2-for-2 with three walks and three stolen bases, hits walk-off double in 9th
Yelich goes 5-for-6 with a walk, hits two homers, drives in four, scores three times, and steals a base as Brewers beat Nationals 15-14 in 14 innings
Yelich goes 2-5 with a triple, homer, walk, HBP, scores twice, drives in four, and steals two bases in 12-10 victory that took 13 innings
Yelich goes 2-2 with three walks, a solo home run, and a two-run, walk-off double (off a 102 MPH fastball) as Brewers win 5-4
Even though he missed the final three weeks of the year, Yelich has a compelling case for both a second-straight NL MVP award as well as the best season that any Milwaukee Brewer has ever posted at the plate. So, naturally, he was also the team leader in nearly every offensive category this year:
Home runs (44)
Runs scored (100)
Runs Batted In (97)
Stolen Bases (30)
Batting Average (.329)
On-base Percentage (.429)
Slugging Percentage (.671)
Christian Yelich’s ascendance to superstar level at the plate since his arrival in Milwaukee has been nothing short of remarkable. He is undoubtedly one of the top players in baseball, maybe better than anyone not named Mike Trout. Therefore it is no surprise that for the second straight season, Yeli was voted in a landslide as the Most Valuable Milwaukee Brewer.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference