On Monday, Christian Yelich went yard twice against the Pirates. Cody Bellinger must have heard, because he drilled a three-run homer against the Cardinals to stay two off of Yelich's league-leading pace, and also stand firm in the National League Most Valuable Player race.

In that category, it's Yeli vs. Belli. 

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the two-horse battle for the award is how similar the statistics – basic and advanced – between both are. 

Of course, there are more factors that affect a voter's ballot than simple numbers. USA TODAY Sports makes the case for both, while also considering a few dark-horse candidates who could make a splash in the season's final two months. 

The case for Yelich 

The pedigree is there. Yelich is the reigning league MVP following a season in which he batted .326/.402/.598, belted 36 homers and drove in 110 runs while helping the Milwaukee Brewers come within one game of advancing to the World Series. 

Yelich, 27, has been up to much of the same in 2019. Entering Tuesday, he was hitting .336 with a 1.133 OPS (133 points higher than last year's final mark), buoyed by a .705 slugging percentage. His 180 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) leads the league, and his 23 stolen bases have him within range of a 30-30 campaign. 

His 185 OPS+ is not only 21 points higher than what he finished with last year, but it's currently tied with Bellinger. He's already eclipsed last year's home run total with 39 to lead all of MLB, has 84 RBI and is one point away from leading the league in hitting. 

If Yelich can hurdle the competition in those last two categories and win the Triple Crown, it will be tough to deny him a second consecutive MVP.

The case for Bellinger

Bellinger's 6.4 fWAR is tied for the league lead with, you guessed it, Yelich. He slightly trails Yelich in wRC+ with a 178. Earlier this season, he was greeted with "MVP!" chants on his 24th birthday at Fenway Park.