Just as the Dodgers celebrated winning their seventh consecutive NL West division title, the NL MVP race took a turn for the worst.
It was all champagne and celebration for the Dodgers on Tuesday night as they celebrated their seventh straight NL West title. Although Cody Bellinger is in the midst of a slump, his NL MVP odds received a boost with news that Christian Yelich would miss the remainder of the season with a fractured kneecap.
For the baseball world, it is a huge loss, Bellinger and Yelich were in a tightly contested battle for the 2019 National League MVP award. Both sluggers entered Tuesday with 44 home runs and over 100 RBI’s. With just weeks left in the regular season the MVP race was heading for a photo finish.
Now well never know how the race would have turned out if Yelich finished out the rest of the regular season. Although Bellinger’s MVP odds are increased, he is still no lock to take home the Dodgers’ first NL MVP award since Clayton Kershaw won it in 2014. His primary competition is now Anthony Rendon and Ronald Acuna Jr. Peter Alonso and Ketel Marte also deserve some recognition.
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Alonso currently leads the NL in home runs with 47, and Ronald Acuna Jr may accomplish the rare feat of a 40-40 season. Then there is Anthony Rendon who has flown under the radar to post a 32 home run, 108 RBI, .337 average while trailing Bellinger’s wRC+ by just three points at 162. Any of those aforementioned players would be deserving of the award.
Cody’s chances have taken a hit in the second half of the season as he has hit 14 home runs while posting a slash line of .253/.372/.548. While that .921 OPS in the second half is still elite, it pales in comparison to his red hot first half where he bashed thirty home runs and had an OPS of 1.124. At the All-Star break, many wondered if Bellinger could get past the fifty home run mark.
Over the last fifteen games, Cody’s hit a rough patch in his season. He has hit just .229 with a two home runs. He still is capable of getting on base as evidenced by his .413 OBP in that span, but he has not been himself. In Tuesday night’s game he continued to miss pitches down the middle of the plate which has become common for him lately.
Despite Christian Yelich bowing out of the NL MVP race due to his season-ending injury, the race is still up for grabs in the National League. Cody Bellinger will need a strong finish to become LA’s first position player to win the NL MVP since Kirk Gibson won it in 1988. Belli’s odds have increased, but he is no lock to win the MVP award.