Why Christian Yelich has taken over the NL MVP race and deserves to win the award

The National League MVP race seems to have a different frontrunner every week. And without the type of dominant season we've had from a household name the past three years -- Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper -- it makes sense that several players have positioned themselves for a shot at the award.

With 10 days left in a tight race, a lot is obviously left to be decided. But it didn't take a deep dive to determine that right now, on Friday afternoon, there's only one name to put at the top of your NL MVP ballot.

Christian Yelich has been the best player in the National League this season, and he's gotten hot at the most important time for a Brewers team that's currently in possession of a playoff spot.

National League leaders in:

Yelich leads the NL in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS, as well as OPS+, wOBA and wRC+, and he's in the top 11 in on-base percentage, times on base and home runs. The only players in the past 35 years to lead the National League in batting and slugging in the same season are Barry Bonds (twice), Derrek Lee, Todd Helton and Larry Walker.

Yelich has been scorching since the All-Star break, batting .356 and slugging .724 with 20 home runs, and he has more games reaching base four times (4) than he does reaching base zero times (3) in the second half.

The last player to bat .350 and slug .700 with 20 homers in the second half was Ryan Howard, when he won his MVP award back in 2006. It's only happened 20 times since the first All-Star Game in 1933, by a list of players that includes Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

He's also done it in the clutch:

  • The only NL player with a higher Win Probability Added is Paul Goldschmidt
  • The only NL player with a higher OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position is Bryce Harper
  • His OPS increases as the inning gets later -- .882 with nobody out, .975 with one out, and 1.037 with two outs (fourth-best in the NL)

Yelich spent his first five seasons in Miami, so he's never even been in a pennant race let alone in the playoffs. His performance this season might help him get his first taste of the postseason, and right now it looks like it should get him an MVP trophy.

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