Can Christian Yelich repeat his 2018 season?
One of the most frequent questions you will hear throughout Miller Park during the early months of the 2019 MLB season is… Can Christian Yelich have another big season?
Yelich won the National League MVP last season with a .326 average, 36 home runs and 110 RBI. While reaching these numbers again this season might be asking for much, it does beg the question… Can Yelich, statistically speaking, match his 2018 output?
To answer that question, let’s take a journey over the past five seasons and see how the last five MVPs in each league did the year following their MVP season.
For the record, here are the MVPs for each league from 2013-17:
American League: Miguel Cabrera (2013), Mike Trout (2014), Josh Donaldson (2015), Mike Trout (2016) and Jose Altuve (2017).
National League: Andrew McCutchen (2013), Clayton Kershaw (2014), Bryce harper (2015), Kris Bryant (2016), Giancarlo Stanton (2017).
As you can see, nine of the 10 MVPs prior to 2018 were everyday players (the only exception was Kershaw in 2014). To get a take on what has happened to previous MVPs and how it might answer the question about whether or not Yelich will match his 2018 MVP season, let’s see how the previous nine everyday MVPs did statistically when it comes to comparing the batting average, HR and RBI numbers from the MVP season to the following year.
Here’s what we find… of the nine non-pitcher MVPs from 2013-17:
- Only three of the nine increased their season HR totals the year after the MVP season;
- All nine saw their RBI totals the season after their MVP campaign decrease the following season;
- Only two of the nine increased their season batting average the year after the MVP year.
Here’s another stat using these year-after-the-MVP numbers… of the nine non-pitchers MVPs from 2013-17:
- Their season home run totals dropped by an average of 7.8 home runs from their MVP season to the following year;
- Their season RBI totals dropped by an average of 21.8 RBI from their MVP season to the following year;
- Their season batting average dropped by an average of 19.7 points from their MVP season to the following year.
If we apply the above numbers to Yelich’s totals from 2018 to project what he might do statistically (batting average, HRs and RBIs) in 2019, we would project Yelich to end 2019, the year after his MVP, with a .306 average with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. Again, this would be based on what we’ve seen from the past five MVPs in each year and what they did the year after their MVP campaign.
Those projected 2019 numbers would not be all that bad for Yelich, but certainly not where he ended the year in 2018. A World Series appearance for the Brewers in 2019 would certainly carry more weight than Yelich reaching his 2018 stats in 2019.
One more quick note: Looking at Clayton Kershaw’s MVP numbers the year after his MVP season, we see that in 2014 (the year Kershaw won the N.L. MVP) he had a 21-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and a WHIP of 0.857. Using those stats as a comparison, Kershaw dropped in each category the year after his MVP; in 2015 Kershaw had a 16-7 record, a 2.13 ERA, and a 0.881 WHIP. Very respectable numbers, but, again, he did not reach the numbers he had in his MVP season.
Will Yelich have a “successful” 2019 season? It all depends on how you want to define successful. History, however, may be telling us that Yelich may not reach the major stats he had in 2018. Are the Brew Crew faithful okay with that?
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It’s one thing to come in last place in Major League Baseball. It’s another thing to come in last place and to be so far out of first place that you set a record.
That’s what happened to the Baltimore Orioles this past season. The O’s finished in last place in the American League East, 61 games behind first place Boston. That’s right… 61 games out of first place.
The 61 games out of first place stat are the most games behind by a team in the majors since baseball went to a three-division format in 1994. Prior to that, the record was held by the 1998 Florida Marlins who finished 52 games out of first place in the National League East.
Following are the teams that finished more than 40 games (or more) out of first place in their division since 1994.
2017: San Francisco, N.L. West, 40 games behind
2012: Houston, N.L. Central, 42 games behind
2011: Houston, N.L. Central, 40 games behind
2004: Arizona, N.L. West, 42 games behind
2002: Milwaukee, N.L. Central, 41 games behind
1998: Florida, N.L. East, 52 games behind
2018: Baltimore, A.L. East, 61 games behind
2013: Houston, A.L. West, 45 games behind
2005: Kansas City, A.L. Central, 43 games behind
2003: Detroit, A.L. Central, 47 games behind
2002: Tampa Bay, A.L. East, 48 games behind
2001: Texas, A.L. West, 43 games behind
2001: Anaheim, A.L. West, 41 games behind
1998: Tampa Bay, A.L. East, 51 games behind
1995: Minnesota, A.L. Central, 44 games behind
Adrian Beltre retires
Adrian Beltre recently announced his retirement. He began his career in 1998 at the age of 19 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Beltre had a career .286 average with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI and 3,166 hits.
Beltre is also one of only 21 players in baseball history to end their careers with 12,000 or more plate appearances. He had 12,130, good enough for 17th on the all-time list.
Here are the 21 players with 12,000 or more plate appearances in a career: Pete Rose (15,890), Carl Yastrzemski (13,992), Hank Aaron (13,941), Rickey Henderson (13,346), Ty Cobb (13,099), Cal Ripken (12,883), Eddie Murray (12,817), Stan Musial (12,718), Barry Bonds (12,606), Derek Jeter (12,602), Craig Biggio (12,504), Willie Mays (12,496), Dave Winfield (12,358), Robin Yount (12,249), Alex Rodriguez (12,207), Paul Molitor 12,167), Adrian Beltre (12,130), Eddie Collins (12,078), Rafael Palmeiro (12,046), Omar Vizquel (12,013) and Tris Speaker (12,011).
Christian Yelich – Part One
The numbers were enough to give him a straight path to the 2018 National League MVP: 110 RBI, 118 runs scored, 36 home runs, 22 stolen bases, a .326 batting average. With those stats, Christian Yelich also became the 19th player in baseball history to have 100 or more RBI, 100 or more runs, 30 or more HRs, 20 or more stolen bases, and a batting average of .320 or better in a season. (It’s interesting to note that fellow Brewer Ryan Braun is the only player in history to reach these numbers in two seasons.)
Here are the 19 players who have accomplished these numbers in a season:
2018: Christian Yelich (Milwaukee)
2015: Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona)
2011: Matt Kemp (L.A. Dodgers), Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
2010: Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado)
2009: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
2007: David Wright (N.Y. Mets)
2005: Alex Rodriguez (N.Y. Yankees)
2002: Vladimir Guerrero (Montreal)
1999: Ivan Rodriguez (Texas)
1997: Larry Walker (Colorado)
1996: Ellis Burks (Colorado)
1993: Barry Bonds (San Francisco)
1978: Dave Parker (Pittsburgh)
1970: Carl Yastrzemski (Boston)
1961: Hank Aaron (Milwaukee), Frank Robinson (Cincinnati)
1932: Chuck Klein (Philadelphia)
1922: Ken Williams (St. Louis Browns)
Christian Yelich – Part Two
Yelich became the eighth Brewers player to hit 30 or more home runs for the team before he turned 27. (Yelich turns 27 on December 5th.)
Following are the seasons when a Brewers player had 30 or more HRs before turning 27 (age for the season as of June 30 of that year).
Player, year Home Runs Age
Rob Deer, 1986 33 25
Geoff Jenkins, 2000 34 25
Richie Sexson, 2001 45 26
Bill Hall, 2006 35 26
Ryan Braun, 2007 34 23
Prince Fielder, 2007 50 23
Ryan Braun, 2008 37 24
Prince Fielder, 2008 34 24
Ryan Braun, 2009 32 25
Prince Fielder, 2009 46 25
Prince Fielder, 2010 32 26
Domingo Santana, 2017 30 24
Christian Yelich, 2018 36 26
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The 2018 MLB playoffs get started on October 3. Let’s take a look at a few stats you may not know about the 2018 regular season and a couple of Milwaukee Brewers stats.
- The Baltimore Orioles became the fifth team in MLB history to win fewer than 50 games in a full-schedule regular season (either a 162 or 154-game schedule). The O’s won only 46 games this year. The other teams: 2003 Detroit Tigers (43 wins), 1962 New York Mets (40 wins), the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies (47 wins) and the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates (42 wins).
- Three American League teams, the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and New York Yankees each won 100 games this season, the first time in MLB history that three teams from the same league won 100 or more games in a season. It was the seventh time in MLB history that three MLB teams won 100 or more games in the same season, but the first time all three teams were from the same league (American or National league). Three teams won 100 games last year, two A.L. clubs, the Astros and Indians, and one N.L. team, the Dodgers. The other years when three MLB teams won 100 games: 2003 (Atlanta, San Francisco, N.Y. Yankees), 2002 (Atlanta, the Yankees, Oakland), 1998 (Braves, Yankees and Astros), 1977 (Kansas City, Philadelphia and the Yankees) and 1942 (Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Yankees).
- The most improved team in 2018 based on how many more wins they had in 2018 than 2017 were the Oakland A’s. They increased their win total by 22 wins in 2018 over the previous season. The team with the biggest drop in wins was the Orioles who saw their win total from 2017 drop by 28 victories. Here are the teams that increased their win total this year over the previous season: Oakland (+22), Atlanta (+18), Boston (+15), Philadelphia (+14), Seattle (+11), Milwaukee (+10), Tampa bay (+10), N.Y Yankees (+9), San Francisco (+9), N.Y. Mets (+7), Pittsburgh (+7), St. Louis (+5), Colorado (+4), Cubs (+3), Houston (+2)… and the teams that saw their win totals decrease this season over 2017: Baltimore (-28), Kansas City )-22), Washington (-15), Miami (-14), L.A. Dodgers (-12), Arizona (-11), Cleveland (-11), Texas (-11), Minnesota (-7), Chicago White Sox (-5), San Diego (-5), Toronto (-3), Cincinnati (-1). Two teams, the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels, each had the same number of wins in 2018 as 2017.
- Christian Yelich slugged 25 home runs in the second half of the 2018 season, the second most homers by a Milwaukee Brewers player after the All-Star break in team history, Richie Sexson holds the record with 27 second half HRs; he hit them in 2001. Others on the list: Prince Fielder, 24 in 2009; Ryan Braun, 23 in 2007; and Gorman Thomas, 22 in 1979.
- The Brewers ended the 2018 season by going 20-7 in the last month (that includes their tiebreaker win against the Cubs on October 1, which counts in the regular season stats and is considered a September win for the sake of monthly win totals). The 20-7 record in September was a .741 winning percentage, the highest September winning percentage in team history. The Brewers won 60% or more of their games in September in six other seasons: 1992 (22-9, .710), 1988 (18-8, .692), 1987 (21-11, .656), 2012 (20-11, .645), 1991 (21-12, .636) and 2011 (15-10, .600).
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Could Christian Yelich become the fifth 30-100-.300 player in Brewers history?
Through games of August 31, Yelich, who this past week had a six-hit game that included hitting for the cycle, is having an MVP-type season. He has 26 home runs, 76 RBI and a batting average of .317. With 26 games left in the season, he’ll need four homers (doable), 24 RBI (could be a challenge) and keep his average above the .300 mark to reach these milestone numbers.
If Yelich reaches these 30-100-.300 stats, it would be the eighth time in team history; Ryan Braun has done it three times for the Brewers, Cecil Cooper did it twice for the Brew Crew.
Here’s a look at the seven times in Brewers history that a player reached the 30 home run, 100-RBI, .300 batting average in a season for the team.
1980: Ben Oglivie, 41-118, .304
1982: Cecil Cooper, 32-121, .313
1983: Cecil Cooper, 30-126, .307
1996: John Jaha, 34-118, .300
2009: Ryan Braun, 32-114, .320
2011: Ryan Braun, 33-111, .332
2013: Ryan Braun, 41-112, .319
In addition to these seven seasons above, the Brewers had four other near-misses when it comes to a 30-100-.300 season. In 1982, Robin Yount had 29 home runs, 114 RBI and a .331 BA; in 2007, a pair of Brewer players missed this milestone… Braun had 34 HRs, 97 RBI and a batting average of .324 while Prince Fielder ended that ’07 campaign with 46 homers, 141 RBI and a .299 average; Fielder again missed having a 30-100-.300 season in 2011 when he hit 38 home runs with 120 RBI and a .299 average.
The Major League leader for 30-100-.300 season is Babe Ruth with 12. He is followed by Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Lou Gehrig, each with 10 such seasons.
The Brewers this season have another pair of players who could reach the 30-HR, 100-RBI milestone: Jesus Aguilar has 31 HRs and 93 RBI while Travis Shaw ended August with 27 homers and 76 runs driven in. Aguilar has an outside chance at a 30-100-.300 season, but he would need to go on a tear in the final month to bring his average up to .300 from his current mark of .276. Shaw’s average was at .247 going into the final month.
One final stat: How about we drop the numbers a little and check how many Brewers have ended a season with 25 or more home runs, 80 of more RBIs, and a batting average of .280 or better. Seventeen different players for the Brewers have reached these numbers with Braun having the most with eight such seasons. Here are those 17 players and the number of 25-80-.280- seasons with the Brew Crew.
8 seasons: Ryan Braun
3 seasons: Cecil Cooper, Geoff Jenkins, Prince Fielder
2 seasons: Ben Oglivie
1 season: Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Corey Hart, Davey May, George Scott, Greg Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, John Jaha, Larry Hisle, Robin Yount, Sixto Lezcano, Tommy Harper
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Could Christian Yelich become the first league batting champion in Milwaukee Brewers history?
Yelich is batting .319, placing him second in the National League behind Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, who in leading the N.L. with a .323 average.
Since 1969 when the Brewers became a MLB franchise (as the Seattle Pilots), the team has had 16 players finish in the top five of league batting average. The last Brewer player to finish in the top five was in 2012 when Ryan Braun batted .319 to finish third in the N.L. batting race.
Here’s a look at the Milwaukee Brewers who finished in the top five in league batting average since 1969.
2012: Ryan Braun, .319 (3rd)
2011: Ryan Braun, .332, (2nd)
1999: Jeff Cirillo, .326 (5th)
1992: Paul Molitor, .320 (4th)
1991: Willie Randolph, .327 (3rd) and Paul Molitor, .325 (5th)
1989: Robin Yount, .318 (4th)
1988: Paul Molitor, .312 (5th)
1987: Paul Molitor, .353 (2nd)
1982: Robin Yount, .331(2nd) and Cecil Cooper, .313 (5th)
1981: Cecil Cooper, .320 (4th)
1980: Cecil Cooper, .352 (2nd)
1978: Ben Oglivie, .303 (5th)
1973: George Scott, .306 (2nd) and Dave May, .303 (5th)
Lorenzo Cain is sitting tied for 10th place in the N.L. batting race with a .298 average. The last time the Brewers had a pair of players in the top 10 was in 1991 when Randolph finished third and Molitor was fifth. Two or more Brewers finished in the top 10 in eight seasons (1991, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1983, 1982, 1979 and 1973). Three Brewers finished in the Top 10 in 1982… in addition to Yount and Cooper finishing second and fifth respectively, Molitor finished 10th that season.
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