After a breakout 2020 season, SF Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski finished eighth in National League Most Valuable Player award voting.
Major League Baseball announced the National League and American League Most Valuable Player award winners on Thursday in a prolonged hour-long MLB Network special. Freddie Freeman won the NL MVP, while José Abreu of the Chicago White Sox won the AL MVP. SF Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski finished eighth in NL MVP voting. SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt also received one ninth-place vote.
Yastrzemski’s eighth-place finish was the highest by a Giants player for the award since Buster Posey finished sixth in 2014. While the final vote tally did not necessarily show it, with Yastrzemski only receiving one top-five vote, he was a legitimate contender for the award for much of the season.
Our own Jeff Young made the case for Yaz just a couple of weeks ago. While his performance dipped in the second-half following a calf strain, closer to his best comps around the league, he still ranked among the league’s best in a number of categories.
Below are Yasztremski’s final stats and where they ranked among hitters in the National League:
WAR – 2.5 (6th among position players)
Batting average – .297 (15th)
OBP – .400 (9th)
Slugging – .568 (11th)
OPS – .968 (7th)
wRC+ – 160 (5th)
Runs – 39 (12th)
Triples – 4 (1st)
Originally acquired by the Giants from the Orioles in an unheralded trade for a pitching prospect last Spring, Yastrzemski quickly found success with the Giants Triple-A affiliate. After his first big-league promotion, Yaz has slowly emerged as one of the top outfielders in baseball. Since he debuted in 2019, he has slashed a .281/.357/.535 line (137 OPS+) with 31 home runs and 90 RBI in 636 plate appearances.
In 2020, Yastrzemski’s 160 wRC+ finished higher than stars like Ronald Acuña Jr. (159) and Corey Seager (151). Similarly, his 2.5 WAR (per FanGraphs) was higher than Marcell Ozuna (2.3). That says it all. Even if Yastrzemski was not the most deserving recipient for the award, he clearly was on par with nearly every competitor.
Yastrzemski is still a finalist to be an All-MLB outfielder and already won the Willie Mac award, the highest award given to a Giants player each season by the organization. Needless to say, even without taking home the MVP, Yaz has added quite a bit to his trophy case and resumé.
Belt missed the early part of the season but came on strong with an incredible hot streak. He finished the year with a career-best .309/.425/.591 triple-slash, was a Gold Glove finalist, and is also an All-MLB candidate at first base.
It has been a meteoric rise to stardom for Mike Yastrzemski over the past two seasons. The Vanderbilt University product was acquired in a minor trade just 19 months ago and finished higher than any other SF Giants player in the NL MVP voting since 2014. Not bad at all.