Christian Yelich hits majors-leading 11th home run as the reigning NL MVP appears to be getting better
Yelich is hitting the ball harder and at a higher trajectory than ever before
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich continued his nearly year-long tear on Friday. Yelich, who entered the night tied with Khris Davis and Cody Bellinger for the most home runs in the majors with 10, delivered his 11th in the first inning against Bellinger's Los Angeles Dodgers. Take a look:
Dating to last season, Yelich has now homered 47 times since joining the Brewers through a trade. He'd homered 59 times in parts of five seasons as a member of the Miami Marlins.
Whereas in 2018 Yelich's launch angle remained consistent with his previous levels, this year he's hitting the ball on a different trajectory. On the season, his launch angle was 15.7 degrees -- previously, he'd not yet averaged 5 degrees during the Statcast era. It's worth noting he's also hitting the ball harder, as measured by exit velocity. Yelich's batted balls have clocked in at 95.5 mph after sitting at 92.3 last year.
Of course, the ball-tracking metrics aren't necessary to realize that Yelich has been hitting the ball hard and making the most of his trips to the plate. You can simply look at his overall line entering Friday (.351/.440/.792) or consider that around 40 percent of his flyballs have carried over the fence -- for reference, the highest single-season mark in FanGraphs history belongs to Ryan Howard's 2006, at 39.5 percent.
There's no telling if Yelich will keep up this pace -- one would think not. But it does seem like Yelich has gotten better, and that's bad news for the rest of the majors.
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