This week’s highs and lows from around the major leagues:
1: Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich’s season-ending broken kneecap gives Cody Bellinger a chance to clinch the National League MVP award. The two players entered the weekend with 44 home runs each; Yelich leads in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and he has 30 stolen bases. Yelich is the defending NL MVP. Bellinger would become the first Dodger to win since Clayton Kershaw in 2014 and the first Dodger position player since Kirk Gibson in 1988. Gibson hit 25 homers that year; that wouldn’t rank him among the NL top 30 this year.
2: The San Diego Padres could have a strong 1-2 punch atop their starting rotation next year. Chris Paddack has a 3.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 136 innings, joining the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and the late Jose Fernandez as the only rookies since 1986 to put up those numbers over so many innings. Former Angel Garrett Richards, signed for $15.5 million to rehabilitate this season and win next season, is expected to return from Tommy John surgery next week. Richards wouldn’t have helped the Angels this year, but they got less than replacement value for the $20 million invested in Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey.
3: The Chicago Cubs’ Yu Darvish, awaiting his first postseason shot since imploding for the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, has quietly become one of the hottest pitchers in the NL. In the second half, he is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA, with six walks and 93 strikeouts. He has thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings. And he already is an accomplished October pitcher at Wrigley Field: He beat the Cubs there, 6-1, in Game 3 of the 2017 NLCS. There is a downside: Darvish has given up the most home runs and hit the most batters of any NL pitcher.
1: The week again showed why Oakland Athletics executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane is the smartest man in just about any room. After the 2002 season — the one that inspired “Moneyball” — Beane rejected a lucrative offer to leave the A’s and run the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have won the World Series four times since then, and they are about to hire their fourth baseball operations head since then, after firing Dave Dombrowski this week in a midnight news dump — less than a year after he built a champion. In 21 generally successful years in Oakland, Beane never has gotten the A’s into the World Series.
2: The Miami Marlins will avoid the embarrassment of being outdrawn by a minor league team — but not by much. The Marlins’ average attendance this season is 9,887. The triple-A Las Vegas Aviators averaged 9,299. The Rays rank 29th in attendance; the Marlins, 30th. For the eighth consecutive year, either the Marlins or Rays will finish last in MLB attendance. In the 20 seasons of the 21st century, the Marlins and Rays each have sold two million tickets once.
3: Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn. He was 17 when the Dodgers left for L.A. “I learned something about politics from that, as a matter of fact. What the power of money is about,” he told Yahoo. “The Brooklyn Dodgers were a very unifying force in Brooklyn. They were an institution. And whatever makes them more money, a guy disrupted all that, moved them out to California.” Fact check: L.A. probably was more lucrative, but Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley had first offered to pay for a new stadium in Brooklyn, on the site where the NBA‘s Nets now play. In 1957, though, the New York parks czar tried to force O’Malley to the site where the Mets now play — in Queens, not Brooklyn.