ST. LOUIS -- Christian Yelich added another bullet point to his National League MVP resume Tuesday: triple-digit RBIs.With a three-run triple and a three-run home run for a career-high six RBIs in the Brewers' 12-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, Yelich further bolstered his statistical case to edge
ST. LOUIS -- Christian Yelich added another bullet point to his National League MVP resume Tuesday: triple-digit RBIs.
With a three-run triple and a three-run home run for a career-high six RBIs in the Brewers' 12-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, Yelich further bolstered his statistical case to edge the Cubs' Javier Baez, the Mets' Jacob deGrom and the rest of a fine field of league MVP candidates. He leads the NL with a .321 average, a .973 OPS, 159 weighted runs created plus and a .412 weighted on-base average -- to go with 33 homers and 104 RBIs.
Yelich has hit more home runs since the All-Star break -- 22 -- than his previous high for a big league season. Only Oakland's Khris Davis has more home runs since the break, with 25. No one in the Major Leagues has more RBIs (61), and Yelich's .743 slugging percentage since the break is 101 points better than the next-best qualifying big leaguer, Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr.
"Christian is speeding up. That's the best way to say it," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "It's getting better. He's been remarkable in the second half. Somehow, it feels like he's getting better and doing more.
"With everything that's swirling around him and us, it has been special. That's the best way to describe it. It has been special. You spend a whole career in baseball and you see it once. You'll be talking about it a long time."
Said the Brewers' most recent league MVP, Ryan Braun: "I can't foresee a scenario in which he doesn't win it."
Yelich's triple capped a four-run Brewers rally in the fourth inning that began with two outs -- a theme for Milwaukee in the middle game of a critical three-game series in St. Louis. Eleven of the Brewers' 12 runs scored with two outs, starting with back-to-back home runs for Jesus Aguilar and Braun in the first inning.
In the fourth, the Brewers struck once again after making two quick outs. Jonathan Schoop and Manny Pina singled before Milwaukee starter Giovany Gonzalez, a career .092 hitter entering the night, lined a single that chased Cardinals starter Austin Gomber from the game in favor of Tyson Ross.
Ross walked Lorenzo Cain before throwing an 0-1 slider right down the middle to Yelich, who pulled it to the right-center-field gap to clear the bases for a 6-0 lead.
It was 9-4 in the ninth when Yelich struck again. After Orlando Arcia's two-out double off Cards left-hander Brett Cecil, St. Louis intentionally walked Cain to get to Yelich.
In the dugout, one Brewers player said, the question was, "Why?"
On a 1-1 pitch, Yelich hit a three-run homer to straightaway center field.
"It's part of the game. At the same time, it's a challenge," said Yelich. "As a competitor, you want to answer the challenge. That's what I was trying to do. It just happened to work out."
It has "happened to work out" often of late.
So often, that Braun politely disagreed with his manager's assertion that this is once-in-a-career stuff.
"It might be a once-in-a-lifetime second half, but I think he's made legitimate strides and gotten better as a baseball player, and he's kind of entering those prime years," said Braun. "Usually that 26 to 28 or 29 [years old] when those guys are at their best. I think the leap forward that he's taken as a player is very real."
As the Brewers came off the field, Fox Sports Wisconsin's Sophia Minnaert stopped Yelich for an interview. Fans in the stands at Busch Stadium, most in Brewers blue, chanted "MVP! MVP!"
"It's been crazy," Yelich said. "It's been really crazy the last few weeks, and it's a lot of fun. The fans have been unbelievable in showing love. The best way I can describe it is surreal."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.