At this point, it’s probably safe to say the Milwaukee Brewers won the Christian Yelich trade. With all due respect to Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto, all of whom might go on to have long professional careers in the Marlins organization, the spark Yelich has provided the Brewers during their 2018 postseason run is nearly unparalleled in franchise history. Even if Yelich never played another game as a Brewer, he’s carved out a niche in the annals of Wisconsin baseball history with his remarkable year.
Yelich’s full-season numbers stand out in their own right: He collected the Brewers’ first batting title, made a late run at the National League’s first triple crown since 1937 and led all National League position players in Wins Above Replacement (7.4, according to Baseball Reference). But those numbers fail to show just how effective Yelich was when it mattered most.
Yelich was one of five Brewers selected for the 2018 All-Star Game and got there by having a nice first half: He was hitting .292 with a .364 on-base percentage and .459 slugging across 82 games, all solid performances but numbers that would not have put him in the conversation to be selected as his league’s best hitter. In 63 games since the break, however, he’s hit .361/.445/.770 and crushed 25 home runs.
Even within that incredible split, there’s a smaller notable split. Yelich finished the season with the best final month in franchise history, entering Monday’s tiebreaker game hitting .352, getting on base at a .500 clip and slugging .807. His 1.307 OPS (on-base plus slugging) was easily the best in franchise history in the season’s final month.
Given a minimum of 100 regular-season plate appearances in September/October, here are the previous top five:
1. Prince Fielder, 2007, 1.212 OPS
Fielder closed out one of the most dominant offensive seasons in franchise history with a solid finishing kick, going 30-for-90 with 11 home runs to become the first Brewer ever to reach 50 in a season. He was on base 54 times in 27 games, hit for prodigious power and still produced numbers about 100 OPS points behind Yelich. That’s how good Yelich has been.
2. Prince Fielder, 2011, 1.163 OPS
Throughout his MLB career, September was easily Fielder’s best month, and his .982 career OPS that month is easily the best in franchise history among players who played at least 50 September games as a Brewer. In 2011, he was a major factor in the Brewers’ first NL Central championship, going 29-for-88 with nine home runs to help the Brewers hold off the late-charging Cardinals.
3. John Jaha, 1996, 1.123 OPS
Jaha spent seven seasons with the Brewers and showed notable offensive skills when healthy but struggled to remain on the field: 1996 was one of just two seasons where he played more than 90 games for Milwaukee. He showed no signs of wear in the season’s final month in 1996, as 14 of his 29 hits went for extra bases and he scored 21 runs.
4. Paul Molitor, 1989, 1.109 OPS
In the middle of a list of players whose primary calling card was their power, Molitor earned his way to the top of the leaderboard in a different way. He set a Brewers franchise record with 49 hits in September 1989, batting .458 for the month. Thirteen of those hits were doubles, but just two were home runs.
5. Richie Sexson, 2001, 1.091 OPS
Sexson wasted no time making an impression as a Brewer, demonstrating durability and massive power in his first full season in Milwaukee. He went 35-for-108 in the season’s final month (which stretched well into October) and hit 12 home runs, tying Gorman Thomas’ single-season franchise record with 45.