Coming into the 2016 campaign, Christian Yelich totaled 20 homers in 1,458 career plate appearances with the Marlins. He matched that, then added another for good luck, sending 21 long balls out of the yard last season. A power spike has long been expected for Yelich as he hits the ball hard, it's just that most of his batted balls are line drives and grounders. He lofted a few more balls, touching 20 percent flyballs for the first time in his career (most power hitters nestle around 40 percent). The added pop emanated from a surge to a 24 percent HR/FB mark, the 14th highest mark among qualified hitters. The safe play is to expect some give-back, dropping Yelich's homers into the low to mid-teens. Also of concern are dwindling steals as Yelich snagged just nine in 13 attempts. He's still a very solid hitter with a projectable floor. Just don't chase last season's tenuous power breakout.
Yelich will play for Team USA at the WBC, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. He may not see much playing time behind a starting outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Adam Jones and Marlins' teammate Giancarlo Stanton, but Yelich will still get to represent his country at the WBC for the first time. The 25-year-old is coming off a breakout campaign in which he set career highs with 21 home runs, 98 RBI and an .859 OPS, and the Marlins will be looking for him to consolidate those gains and become the foundation of their young roster.
Yelich went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Nationals. Yelich joined Miguel Rojas as the only Marlins to get on base three times in a game where Tanner Roark and four relievers combined to shut down their offense. The young star has hits in three straight and career highs in homers (21) and RBI (97) in what has been a breakout campaign.
Yelich went 2-for-3 with a double, sacrifice fly and solo homer in Friday's 7-4 win over the Nationals. Yelich's 434-foot shot to right center in the seventh gave the Marlins some important breathing room by extending the lead to 6-4. The homer was his first since Sep. 21, when he also went deep against this same Nationals squad.
Yelich hit his 20th home run of the season Wednesday as the Marlins fell 8-3 at the hands of the Nationals. Yelich's 20 homers are a quantum leap from the nine and seven home runs he hit the last two years, although perhaps it shouldn't be such a surprise for a player who is 6'3" and was 24 years old entering the year. Yelich now has 95 RBI, nearly matching the 98 he had over the past two years combined. He's done it all while maintaining his .300 batting average, and looks to be a star for the Marlins for years to come.
Yelich ripped a game-tying two-run home run Sunday against the Phillies. The blast was Yelich's 19th on the year as he pushed his season triple slash to a strong .300/.376/.480 over 537 at-bats. Yelich has already blown past his previous career bests in home runs (9) and RBI (54) with 19 and 93, respectively. He's got a great shot to post his first 20-homer, 100-RBI season with two weeks left to play.