Revisiting Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich made his major league debut on July 23 of this year against the Colorado Rockies. I wrote a piece about Yelich and fellow Marlins prospect Jake Marisnick. The 2 prospects fortunes have been quite different since their debuts in late July. Marisnick is currently hitting .186 and understandably isn’t getting regular playing time. On the other hand, Yelich is hitting .286 and starting every day in left field.
If we extrapolate Yelich’s current stats over a 162 game season, he would score 87 runs, hit 12 home runs, drive in 49, steal 23 bases to go along with his .286 batting average. He’s spent the lion’s share of his time in the leadoff position in the batting order. He’s also hit second and recently he’s landed in the 3 hole in front of Giancarlo Stanton. In a small sample size, he has a .754 OPS from the leadoff position (27 games), .770 OPS when hitting second (10 games) and .677 when hitting third (6 games).
When we look at how Yelich has faired in different counts, we see that when he is able to get ahead in the at bat, he has a staggering 1.107 OPS in 74 plate appearances, while when the pitcher is ahead (47 plate appearances) his OPS is a weak .511. If you throw a first pitch strike to Yelich, his OPS is .635, but if you miss with your first offering his OPS jumps to .935.
When I wrote about Yelich when he got called up I predicted a .280/.370/.440 slashline. As of Sept. 8 he’s slashing .286/.352/.394 with 3 home runs and 6 steals. It looks like I was too aggressive in predicting Yelich’s extra base hits. I didn’t expect him to exhibit too much power (and he hasn’t), but I was expecting a bit more pop in the bat. He’s hit 8 doubles and would be on pace to hit 31 doubles over a full season. Thirty one over a full season would put him in the top 50 in MLB for doubles on the season.
If you picked up Yelich when he was called up, I would bet that you’re already happy with your return on your investment. I’m still very bullish on Yelich. I think he will continue to improve and continue to find more of a power stroke. Probably not this season, but if you’re in a keeper league, you can safely hold onto Yelich and bank some solid runs, stolen bases and an above average batting average (or on base). Pay attention to where he hits the rest of the season. If he spends more time in the 3rd spot in the lineup, you can expect him to get more RBIs this year and be slotted in the 3 hole heading into 2014.