Christian Yelich is a few days away from wrapping up a remarkable season. The 26-year-old outfielder has led the Milwaukee Brewers to the brink of the postseason and dominated the National League in the process. At this point, there’s little doubt he should be named the NL’s Most Valuable Player.
Yelich has been nothing short of fantastic. He leads the National League in batting average (.321), is tied for third in home runs (33), fourth in RBI (104), third in hits (181), sixth in on-base percentage (.395), first in slugging percentage (.583) and first in OPS by far. Yelich’s OPS is .978, Paul Goldschmidt is in second place at .931. It’s a rout. Most importantly, Yelich leads the NL in fWAR (6.8) by a sizable margin over second place (Anthony Rendon at 6.1).
The best part of what Yelich has done, is that he’s having his best month in September, when it counts the most. So far this month he’s slashing .346/.454/.728, with a 1.182 OPS.
Oh, and here’s where I tell you I was terribly, horribly, horrifically wrong about what Yelich would provide the Brewers.
You see, back when the Brewers unloaded four prospects to acquire Yelich from the Miami Marlins, I may or may not* have said they gave up far too much to get him.
The price for Yelich was uber-prospect Lewis Brinson, fellow top 100 prospect Monte Harrison, plus infielder Isan Diaz and righty Jordan Yamamoto. Brinson was the prize and while he could still turn out to be a fantastic player, he’ll almost surely never reach the heights Yelich has this year.
Brinson hit .331 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI and an OPS of .962 at Triple-A in 2017 before being called up to the show. The 24-year-old has spent most of this season at the big league level and has struggled mightily. He’s hitting .200 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI.
Harrison has been OK in Double-A this year (.240/.316/.399) 19 home runs, 48 RBI). Diaz has been about the same at the same level (.245/.365/.418, 10 home runs, 42 RBI). Yamamoto has 13 total starts this year and has been solid but not spectacular.
Brinson has long-term upside but the other three guys merely look OK. Yelich is a star right now. And he’s only 26.
This deal has been a big win for Milwaukee.
My initial reaction to the trade had very little to do with the prospects though. I just never saw Yelich exploding the way he has. Yes, he was very good in Miami, but his numbers declined significantly in 2017. I guess I underestimated the impact of being in such an awful organization. The situation with the Marlins had to be so demoralizing for everyone on that roster.
As things stand right now I can’t see anyone legitimately challenging Yelich for MVP honors. Yeah, Javy Baez has had a fantastic year for the Chicago Cubs, Goldshmidt has been outstanding for the Arizona Diamondbacks again and Nolan Arenado is always amazing for the Colorado Rockies. But none of those guys has put together the season Yelich has.
He’s the NL MVP. And there’s really no need for debate.
And I was wrong about that trade. And there’s really no need to ever bring it up again…