After leading his club to consecutive postseason berths for the first time in franchise history, Colorado Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado was announced as a finalist for the 2018 NL MVP award last week, marking the fourth straight season he finished in the top 10 and third straight in the top five. Unfortunately for Arenado, he’s going to have to wait at least one more year for his award.
Perhaps the discussion on MLB Network’s MLB Now early Thursday afternoon could have foreshadowed how the MVP voting would go for the Rockies’ representative. Arenado was essentially an afterthought during the program’s NL MVP segment, with most of the debate surrounding fellow finalists Christian Yelich and Javier Baez, and even 2018 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
Yelich did win the honors for his incredible breakout season after being traded to the Brewers from the Marlins last offseason, deservedly so. After being named to his first NL All-Star team, Yelich wasn’t content with how he performed in the first half of the season, and brought his game to a new level during his club’s push for its eventual NL Central title.
Overall, Yelich hit for a .326/.402/.598 slashline with an OPS of an even 1.000. He led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ (his was 164; 100 is league average) and total bases (343). His 7.6 fWAR was also the best in the NL. Oh, and he hit for the cycle not once, but twice.
During the second half of the season, Yelich was other-worldly. He posted a wRC+ of 220 (100 is league average). He slugged .770 with a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .502. For context, Fangraphs reports anything above .320 as above average when it comes to wOBA. He also hit 25 homers and drove in 67 runs.
Not to mention the fact that, whether you agree with this criteria for judging an MVP or not, he led his team to a division title, as opposed to having to settle for a Wild Card berth.
This shouldn’t be taken as a slight to Arenado, who had a phenomenal season himself and was deserving of his top three finish. Arenado led the league in home runs for the third time in the past four seasons with 38, and finished with his second best single-season batting average at .297. He won his 6th straight Gold Glove, his second straight Platinum Glove, and his fourth straight Silver Slugger. He also finished with the best OPS+ of any season in his career, with a shining mark of 133.
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Yelich was simply better in a lot of these major statistical categories than Arenado was over the course of the season. Yelich’s slashline bested Arenado’s .297/.374/.561, his wRC+ was better than Arenado’s 132, his OPS was higher than Arenado’s .935, and his OPS+ was better as well.
Not to mention the fact that while Yelich turned it up to 11 after the All-Star Break, Arenado struggled to produce consistently, at least by his standards. During the second-half, Arenado hit just .275 with a wRC+ of 112 and 15 homers, as opposed to his first half wRC+ of 145 and 23 homers.
It should also be noted that Rockies shortstop Trevor Story got significant consideration as well. He came in eighth place, just one point behind Lorenzo Cain for seventh place. Overall, 19 players got at least one vote. You can check out the full voting breakdown here
Rockies fans should still be proud of their guys and how they performed this season, but as Arenado enters his final year of team control in 2019, the entire baseball world will now be waiting on pins and needles to see if he will re-sign with the Rockies, or test his luck on the market next winter.