Aaron Gash/Associated Press
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich was announced Thursday as the winner of the 2018 National League Most Valuable Player award.
Milwaukee Brewers @Brewers
Thank you @officialBBWAA for confirming what we already knew: @ChristianYelich is your 2018 NL MVP. #ThisIsMyCrew #ThisIsMyMVP https://t.co/E7rPC8y9Yq
Raise a glass. 🍺
@ChristianYelich is your 2018 National League MVP. https://t.co/jRXQ16TdhT
Yelich earned 29 of 30 first-place votes, as New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom earned the remaining vote, per BBWAA.com. Chicago Cubs star Javier Baez was a distant second in the overall voting, while Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies took third place.
MLB Network provided a full breakdown of the vote:
MLB Network @MLBNetwork
One Jacob deGrom vote away from unanimous for @ChristianYelich! #MVP https://t.co/CGHKjSj0JH
The Brewers acquired Yelich from the Miami Marlins in a January trade for a package of prospects. He turned into the offseason’s most impactful addition.
After a solid first half that included a .292 batting average and 11 home runs, the 26-year-old California native was dominant following the All-Star break to move to forefront of the MVP race.
Yelich posted an eye-popping .367/.449/.770 triple-slash line with 25 homers, 67 RBI, 58 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in the second half. His 1.219 OPS over that span was an astonishing 153 points better than any other qualified MLB player (Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner, 1.066), per FanGraphs.
He put up career-best numbers in virtually every offensive category, including on-base percentage (.402), home runs (36) and steals (22).
Bleacher Report’s Zachary Rymer broke down the MVP race:
Zachary “Doom” Rymer @zachrymer
Christian Yelich led the National League in AVG, SLUG and OPS, and he had a 1.219 OPS and 25 homers amid the Brewers’ 41-24 run in the second half.
So, uh, yeah. MVP.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who played college baseball at Notre Dame, won two World Series titles during a 16-year MLB career and has been the team’s skipper for the past four seasons, told reporters in late September he had never witnessed a run like the one Yelich put together down the stretch:
“Christian is speeding up. That’s the best way to say it. It’s getting better. He’s been remarkable in the second half. Somehow, it feels like he’s getting better and doing more. With everything that’s swirling around him and us, it has been special. That’s the best way to describe it. It has been special. You spend a whole career in baseball and you see it once. You’ll be talking about it a long time.”
The extended hot streak allowed him to pull away from the pack in the MVP race, which also featured the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt and Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman, among others.
“It’s just how I’ve always swung a baseball bat,” Yelich told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times about his trademark swing. “I was the first person in my family to play baseball. No one was like, ‘Here’s how you swing.’ It was just like, ‘Let’s go hit and figure it out along the way.’ I always kind of figured it out.”
Perhaps the best news for the Brew Crew is Yelich remains under team control through 2022 with a reasonable salary that steadily increases from $9.75 million next season to $15 million in the final year.
That’s a small price to pay for a player who proved himself as the NL’s best in 2018.