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Christian Yelich fractures kneecap, out for the year

Baseball lost one of its brightest stars this season.

Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Christian Yelich’s season is over, and that’s a bad thing. It’s a bad thing for Yelich, it’s a bad thing for the Milwaukee Brewers, and it’s a bad thing for baseball fans.

Yelich fouled a ball off of his knee during a game on Tuesday, and it fractured his kneecap. That injury will, not surprisingly, keep him off the field for the rest of the regular season, and the rest of the postseason.

The outfielder was in the middle of a tremendous year, and an utterly spectacular two-year run. After being traded from the Miami Marlins to the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2018 season (in the offseason where the Marlins made it their mission to rid themselves of every good player on their roster), Yelich transformed from a very good player to a truly elite one.

Last year he slashed .326/.402/.598, good for a wRC+ of 166 (with 100 being league average), and 7.6 fWAR. That earned him the National League MVP award in just his first All-Star season, at the age of 26.

This year, Yelich was one-upping himself, slashing .329/.429/.671. His wRC+ of 173, and his 7.7 fWAR are the very best in all of human baseball (which is to say they are second in MLB behind Mike Trout). He seemed likely to be on his way to his second-straight MVP award, but with the amount of time missed (he ends the year with 130 games played), that award will probably end up in Cody Bellinger’s hands this year.

It goes without saying that the injury is a huge loss for the Brewers, who still have important games to play. Milwaukee is 76-68, five games out in the NL Central, but just one game out in the Wild Card race. Fangraphs gives the Brewers a 24.7% chance of making the postseason.

Those odds will go down a little bit with Yelich out, and, even if they make the playoffs, it’s hard to win when you’re without your best player.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that Yelich should make a strong recovery. For reference, a fractured kneecap is the same injury that NBA stars Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin suffered in recent years. Now, I don’t know which sport is more taxing on the knees, but both basketball and baseball require heavy weight on planting legs, so if those players can return at full strength, Yelich likely can as well.