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Bryce Harper, Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger Co-Favorites to Win 2019 NL MVP Award

Bryce Harper
All eyes have been on Bryce Harper during his first season in Philadelphia. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)
  • Cody Bellinger has rebounded from a sophomore slump in 2018, and holds the early lead among NL hitters in average, home runs, and RBI
  • Bryce Harper created a sensation in his Phillies debut, but has saved his best performances for meetings with his former team, the Washington Nationals
  • Playing in the relative obscurity of Milwaukee, Christina Yelich has maintained last season’s torrid pace early on

Cody Bellinger saw a season-opening 10-game hit streak halted in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. But following a hot start that leaves him leading all National League hitters in batting average, home runs, and RBI, Bellinger is now in a three-way tie with Bryce Harper and Christian Yelich in the 2019  NL MVP odds race.

2019 NL MVP Odds

Team Odds to Win 2019 AL Pennant at 5Dimes
Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) +500
Bryce Harper (Phillies) +500
Christian Yelich (Brewers) +500
Nolan Arenado (Rockies) +700
Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) +700

*Odds taken on 04/09/19

Bellinger on Rebound After Taking Step Back in 2018

Bellinger saw his offensive production slip last season after being named NL Rookie of the Year in 2017. His home run total dipped from 39 to 25, and his run production and runs batted in also took a hit, despite appearing in 30 more games in 2018.

The 23-year-old showed signs of regaining his touch in the postseason, driving in the winning run in both Games 4 and 7 in the Dodgers’ NLCS series win over the Milwaukee Brewers. His production earned him NLCS MVP honors.

Bellinger has wasted no time making an impact in the young MLB season, leading the Dodgers’ onslaught in their season-opening series against Arizona, going 10-for-20 with four dingers and eight RBI during the four-game series with the Diamondbacks.

Bellinger’s Hot Start Aided by Dodgers’ Favorable Early Schedule

The Scottsdale native has reached base in all 11 games he has appeared in, racking up an impressive 19 total RBI. But it remains to be seen if the budding Dodgers star can maintain an MVP pace.

After a hot start last season, Bellinger struggled with consistency at the plate well into the summer before rediscovering his groove while hitting over .300 in the month of August. Bellinger has also benefited from the Dodgers’ favorable early-season schedule, which saw them follow up their series against the woeful Diamondbacks with a road trip that has featured a series with the last-place San Francisco Giants and a trip to the hitter’s haven that is Coors Field in Denver.

After a hot start last season, Bellinger struggled with consistency at the plate well into the summer.

However, Bellinger will be hard pressed to keep pace with a pair of former NL MVPs, Bryce Harper and Christian Yellich, who join him atop the odds as +500 co-favorites.

Yelich Has Been a Model of Consistency

Christian Yelich has once again been a model of consistency in the early going of the 2019 season, joining the NL leaders with a .375 average, five home runs, and 13 RBI.

Yelich enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in his first season in Milwaukee last year. After overcoming an early-season injury, Yelich powered the Brewers’ late-season march to the playoffs while racking up an NL-best .326 average while challenging for the Triple Crown with 36 home runs and 110 RBI.

The 27-year-old saved his best for a spectacular stretch run, batting .500 and driving in 33 runs in the month of September as Milwaukee eked out its first NL Central pennant win since 2011.

Yellich’s fast 2019 start has featured five multi-hit and four multi-RBI performances in his first 10 outings, and has been key to the Brewers’ early rise to both the top of the division standings, and to their climb to surprising +130 favorites to repeat as NL Central champs.

Harper Endearing Himself to Philadelphia Fans

Harper has had a quieter start in his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 2015 NL MVP rose to the occasion in his return to Washington last week, reaching base in eight of 10 plate appearances and driving in three runs as the Phillies split a pair of games with the Nationals. But the 26-year-old has cooled off since last weekend, going 2-for-13 at the plate in his last four games.

Phillies Star Aided by High Profile, Media Attention

Slow starts have been nothing new for Harper, who struggled terribly in the early going a year ago, reaching the All-Star break hitting a dismal .214.

Harper still sports a spectacular .345 average as the Phillies continue their current series with the Nationals on Tuesday night, and has delighted his newfound fan base in Philadelphia with dramatic bat flips and bows to the crowd. A colorful personality, big paycheck, and high media profile have likely all contributed to Harper’s strong position on the odds board.

Conversely, while playing in relative obscurity, first in Miami and now in Milwaukee, Yelich has earned his accolades honestly, with solid numbers. And until he shows signs of slowing down his torrid pace at the plate and steady play in the outfield, the two-time Silver Slugger has to be considered the man to beat in the race for NL MVP.

Pick: Christian Yelich (+500)

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