One of the main subplots to the 2019 season has been the National League MVP race between Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. Whereas Bellinger’s success has contributed to the Dodgers boasting one of the top records in baseball, Yelich’s Milwaukee Brewers have fought for their postseason lives.
Bellinger’s historic start to the season vaulted him to the forefront of the MVP conversation, though some regression led to some pegging Yelich as the favorite to win the award for a second consecutive year.
Bellinger and Yelich have both expressed mutual admiration for each other and done their part to embrace the “Belli vs. Yeli” race that MLB has even tried to market through social media and commercials. However, the MVP sweepstakes took an unfortunate turn last week when Yelich fractured his kneecap.
The Brewers soon announced that while Yelich does not need surgery, he will miss the remainder of the season. It is a huge blow to a Milwaukee team in the thick of the race for the second NL Wild Card spot.
But whether or not an injury this late in the season impacts Yelich’s standing in NL MVP voting remains to be seen. Bellinger, for his part, has no idea what kind of effect it will have on the race, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I think the MVP thought has been in the back of your mind because you hear about it every game,” said Bellinger, who hears the “M-V-P” chants from Dodgers fans at home and on the road. “But I really have no idea what the voters are looking for. I don’t even know who votes so I don’t know how this affects it.”
Fans have latched on to the Dodgers’ first true MVP contender since Clayton Kershaw in 2014, regularly serenading Bellinger with chants during home and road games.
While Bellinger would be the Dodgers’ second MVP in six seasons, he would be the first position player to win the award since Kirk Gibson in 1988. Gibson’s fantastic 1988 regular season, of course, is overshadowed by the remarkable walk-off home run he hit in Game 1 of the World Series that year while dealing with major injuries to both of his legs.
Soon, Bellinger and the Dodgers will seek to bring a World Series championship back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988 after falling just short in each of his first two MLB seasons.