Just a quick update on something Aaron mentioned yesterday.
With the Phillies eliminated, we can now say that none of the top-nine payroll teams made it through the first round of the playoffs. In fact, the Tigers and Cardinals are the only teams left with a payroll north of $100 million.
Here are the payroll and payroll ranks of the four remaining teams, according to USA Today:
10. Tigers – $106 million
11. Cardinals – $105 million
13. Rangers – $92 million
17. Brewers – $85 million
It’s even interesting when you look at the teams who were eliminated in the first round. The Rays and Diamondbacks were among the bottom six in payroll while the Yankees and Phillies ranked one and two, respectively. The playoffs can be pretty random, but we somehow ended up with four teams in the middle. Parity feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.