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Heroes and Goats: MVP edition

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A look at the MVP discussion through the WPA and H&G lens

MLB: NLDS-Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The question was raised at some point of what Heroes and Goats would look like for Christian Yelich. Of course, after I agreed to run WPA and H&G for the Brewers season, another person wondered about Jacob deGrom. Here then is the first-ever Heroes and Goats look at the MVP race. First, we look at the candidates and what I perceive got them here.

The Narrative: Javier Baez. Javy was the feature of many, many articles across all of the internet, but of course he was a fixture here on this page throughout the Cubs season. Javy produced some of the best offensive numbers in the National League with an OPS of .881, 34 home runs, nine triples, 40 doubles, 101 runs scored, a league-leading 111 RBI, and 21 stolen bases, just to name some of the traditional categories. Javy did all of this while playing plus defense at three of the most difficult defensive positions on the field (second, short and third). Javy’s combination of power, speed, aggressive base-running and defense found itself on highlight packages across the country on an almost daily basis.

The Offensive Force: Christian Yelich. Christian lead the National League in batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.598) and on-base plus slugging (1.000). He also led in total bases with 343. He hit 36 homers and drove in 110 runs, narrowly missing the first National League triple crown since 1937. In referring to Yelich as an offensive force, I don’t mean to dismiss his other skills. Christian was more than a slugger. He stole 22 bases and I’ve never heard anyone refer to him as a defensive liability. He played all three outfield positions over the course of the season. Additionally, Christian led the Brewers to an upset of the Cubs in the National League Central including hitting two home runs and stealing a potential game-winning homer from the opposing Tigers in the game that moved the Brewers into a first-place tie in Game 161, providing a very good narrative of his own.

The Dominant Pitcher: Jacob deGrom. 32 starts with a major league leading 1.70 ERA. 269 strike outs in 217 innings of work with only 46 walks. He allowed only 152 hits. He led the NL in ERA+ at 216 and all of baseball with a FIP of 1.99. He led all of baseball by allowing only 0.4 home runs per nine innings pitched. Unfortunately, he pitched on a terrible Mets team and thus only “won” 10 games. He’s considered the favorite by many to win the National League Cy Young Award and without any doubt provided the most value relative to the rest of his team, producing 9.6 bWAR on a team that lost 85 games.

So what did H&G think of the contenders?

Those of you who followed this series this year know that Javy finished third on the Cubs with a score of 19.5. So we know heading into this that he’s facing an uphill battle. Christian Yelich did lead the Brewers (by a very large margin). Yelich scored 56.5, the second largest number I’ve seen scored. That was in the 2015 season of Anthony Rizzo (65.5), back when Russ La Croix was running this feature.

Jacob deGrom? I solely ran the numbers for his games and thus I don’t have any Mets context (one can only look at 2018 Mets numbers for so long). Jacob accumulated a 54 in just 32 games. He had 15 Superhero performances in just 32 games. In one stretch of games, he had six Superhero appearances in seven games. The other start? He pitched just one inning on May 13 after having not started since May 2. This is the finest season scored to date by H&G.

A quick look at the 2018 Brewers:

  • Superhero - Christian Yelich 56.5
  • Hero - Jhoulys Chacin 29
  • Sidekick - Jeremy Jeffress 19
  • 4th - Josh Hader 18
  • 5th - Lorenzo Cain/Travis Shaw 13
  • 50th - Manny Pina -20
  • 51th - Ryan Braun -22.5
  • 52th - Orlando Arcia -27.5

Yep, the Brewers used 52 different players that registered at least one hero or goat appearance. (Compare that to 45 different Cubs.) It was fun to see Braun at the bottom of this list. Chacin appears at the top, surely just so I had to spell that name one more time this year.

My Vote/H&G Vote:

Fortunately, no one would bestow this ability on me. I don’t know how anyone who watched Javier Baez play this year could easily pick anyone else to win the MVP. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t pick someone else, just that it isn’t easy. In the end, I agree with what H&G would say. Yelich was the MVP. All three of these men and a handful of others had fantastic seasons worthy of more discussion that will be held here. But I will especially tip the cap to the amazing season deGrom posted. I hope it isn’t the last season we see like it. Given that Jake Arrieta just wowed the world a short few seasons ago and that Clayton Kershaw had an amazing run of his own cut short by injury in the interim, I suspect this won’t be the last mind-blowing season.

Poll

The 2018 MVP will be...

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Christian Yelich
    (156 votes)
  • 1%
    Jacob deGrom
    (3 votes)
  • 16%
    Javier Baez
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (2 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now