Christian Yelich

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Christian Stephen Yelich

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Biographical Information[edit]

Christian Yelich made his major league debut in 2013.

He hit .455 as a high school senior, with 14 doubles and 9 home runs in 77 at-bats; he also stole 27 bases. Baseball America named him a second-team high school All-American infielder, behind first-teamers Sean Coyle, Nick Delmonico, Manny Machado and Chris Hawkins. He was the first first baseman taken in the 2010 amateur draft. He went 23rd overall, to the Florida Marlins; the scout was Tim McDonnell. He was converted to the outfield after signing with the Marlins (for a $1.7 million bonus) and began his pro career in 2010. He showed he belonged right away, going 3 for 3 with a triple, two runs and two RBI in his pro debut. He saw limited action for the GCL Marlins (9 for 24, 2B, 3B, 2 BB, SB) and Greensboro Grasshoppers (8 for 23, 2 2B, BB) that summer.

A teenager in a full-season league in 2011, he more than held his own for Greensboro, hitting .312/.388/.484 with 32 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 runs, 77 RBI and 32 steals in 37 tries. He finished among the South Atlantic League leaders in average (3rd behind Brady Shoemaker and Andrew Clark), OBP (7th), OPS (10th), hits (144, tied for 3rd with Noah Perio), doubles (tied for 9th) and steals (tied for 6th). In the league finale, he helped Greensboro to a title. In game one, he hit a walk-off, two-run, bottom-of-the-15th homer off Jose Monegro. He made the SAL All-Star outfield alongside Brandon Jacobs and Kyle Parker. Baseball America named him the SAL's #5 prospect (behind Bryce Harper, Machado, Jurickson Profar and Jameson Taillon), as the Marlins' top prospect and as the #41 prospect in all of the minors. He won the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year award.

With the Jupiter Hammerheads for most of 2012 (he had one game for the GCL Marlins), he hit .330/.404/.519 with 29 doubles, 76 runs and 20 steals while being caught 6 times. He was all over the Florida State League leaderboards: 2nd in average (.012 behind Mike O'Neill), first in slugging (by 36 points), 2nd in OBP (38 points behind O'Neill), first in OPS (.063 ahead of O'Neill), tied for 5th in doubles, 3rd in runs (behind Marcell Ozuna and Ramon Flores) and 7th in total bases (206). He joined O'Neill and Ozuna as the All-Star outfielders. He repeated as Miami's Minor League Player of the Year. Baseball America continued to shower him with praise: #4 prospect in the FSL (behind Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole and Taillon), #2 in the Marlins chain after Fernandez, #15 in all of baseball. In the 2012 Futures Game, Yelich entered in the 5th inning of a 17-5 US rout, replacing Anthony Gose in the lineup and taking Wil Myers' spot in right field (Myers moved to center). In the 6th, he singled off Ariel Pena and scored on a Machado double. He came up later in that 9-run inning and drew a walk from Julio Rodriguez. In the 8th, he popped up against Kyle Lotzkar.

Yelich's numbers remained good to open 2013 with the Jacksonville Suns (.280/.365/.518, 33 R in 49 G). In the 2013 Futures Game, Christian started for the US at DH, hitting 7th in a 4-2 win. Facing Enny Romero in the second, he doubled home Joc Pederson with the game's first run. In the 4th, he singled off Michael Ynoa to send Pederson to third. A fellow Christian, Christian Walker, batted for him in the 6th. He was called up by the now-Miami Marlins on July 22, 2013, on the same day that they sent down rookie Ozuna, who had started in the outfield for most of the season. He had a very solid debut for the Marlins the next day against the Colorado Rockies, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in a 4-2 win. He batted second and played left field, singling to right off Jhoulys Chacin in the 1st inning for his first career hit, and then adding an RBI single in the 3rd and another RBI single in the 5th. He was the third player in team history to collect three hits in his debut, following Mike Redmond - now his manager - and teammate Giancarlo Stanton (who had been signed by the same scout, McDonnell). He hit his first career home run on August 8th against Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit .288/.370/.396 for a 112 OPS+ in 63 games, while playing error-free ball in the outfield. He was the third-youngest player in the 2013 NL behind Bryce Harper and Jose Fernandez. He was named to the 2013 Topps All-Star Rookie Team outfield alongside Wil Myers and Yasiel Puig.

He continued to play well in 2014, getting into 144 games for the Marlins as their starting left fielder. Not only did he earn a Gold Glove for his defensive play at the position, but he also hit a respectable .284 with 9 homers and 54 RBI, scoring 94 runs and stealing 21 bases in 28 attempts. His OPS+ was a solid 112. The Marlins considered that he was one of the main building blocks of their young team, alongside Stanton and Fernandez, and during spring training in 2015 signed him to a seven-year contract extension worth $50 million. He responded by hitting .300 in 126 games with 7 homers and 44 RBIs. In 2016, he took a big step forward offensively as he won a Silver Slugger Award for his bat in the outfield. In 155 games, he hit.298 with 38 doubles, 21 homers and 98 RBIs. He also got consideration in the MVP voting for the first time, getting some down-ballot support to finish 19th. Playing alongside Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, he was part of one of the most productive outfields in all of the major leagues. It looked like the Marlins were finally building a team that could compete with anyone, until tragedy struck at the end of the season with the death of their pitching ace, Jose Fernandez, in a boating accident that shook the team to its foundations.

2017 was another disappointing season for the team, even though the outfield continued to perform extremely well. On July 26th, the Marlins set a team record by scoring 22 runs in defeating the Texas Rangers 22-10, and Christian was at the center of things. He hit a solo homer in the 1st as part of a 4-for-5 day during which he also banged three doubles. He ended the season at .282 in 156 games, with 36 doubles, 18 homers, 100 runs scored and 81 RBIs. As good as that was, his two outfield partners, Stanton and Ozuna, did even better and both won a Silver Slugger Award. However all three were gone by the start of the 2018 season, as a result of a fire sale ordained by the new ownership team of Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. Stanton and Ozuna were traded at the start of the off-season, then Yelich followed on January 25, 2018 when he was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for four prospects: Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto.

He had an outstanding first few games with the Brewers in 2018, going 7 for 14, including a five-hit game against the San Diego Padres on March 31st in a 7-3 win. he was hitting .385 after 6 games when he missed some games with an oblique injury, prompting the Brewers to place him on the disabled list on April 8th. He returned to action on April 18th. He made the All-Star team for the first time that summer, after hitting .292 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs in the first half, then got even better after the break. On August 29th, he had a career game as he went 6-for-6 and hit for the cycle; all of his contributions were needed as the Brewers squeaked by the Cincinnati Reds, 13-12, in 10 innings. On September 17th, he hit for the cycle again, and again against the Reds, this time in an 8-0 win; he completed the feat in just 6 innings, and then was removed from the game. He became just the fifth player to hit two cycles in a season - the last had been Aaron Hill in 2012 - and the first to do so against the same team. On September 25th, he drove in a career-high 6 runs in a 12-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals; that pushed him to 100 RBIs in a season for the first time. On the penultimate day of the season, September 29th, he homered twice to lead the Brewers to a 6-5 win over the Detroit Tigers; combined with a loss by the Chicago Cubs, this put the Brewers in a first-place tie in the NL Central with one game left to play. They won the final game and the one-game playoff on October 1st, finishing the season with 8 straight wins, while Yelich clinched the batting title. He was then named the National League Player of the Month for September, on the strength of his .370 batting average, 10 homers and 34 RBIs. He finished the season at .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs, also leading the NL with a .598 slugging percentage. He was voted the winner of the 2018 National League Most Valuable Player Award. In the postseason, he went 2 for 8 with 4 runs scored, the result of 6 walks, in the Brewers' win over the Colorado Rockies in the Division Series. However, in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was just 5 for 28 (.179), his lone RBI coming on a solo homer.

Yelich started off the 2019 season with a bang, as he homered in each of the Brewers' first four games, all against the St. Louis Cardinals, to tie a major league record. He had another night to remember on April 15th. It started with an "aw shucks" story, as on March 30th, a couple of adorable young girls, aged 6 and 4, had brought a sign to the ballpark reading "Yelich: Hit a Homerun and my Dad Buys Me a Puppy!" The sign went viral and Yelich did hit a long ball in that game, and - not in strict accordance to the sign, however - hand-delivered an equally adorable puppy to the lucky sisters before the game. The puppy, to be named Yeli, of course, was to be trained as a diabetes-sniffing dog, as the older sister suffers from type 1 diabetes and needs around-the-clock monitoring of her condition. Yelich then went on to do what he does best, demolish opposition pitching, banging three homers and driving in 7 runs to lead the Brewers to a 10-7 win over the Cardinals. It was the first three-homer game of his career. He followed that with a three-run homer the next day, to lead his team to another win over the Cards, 8-4. On April 20th, he had a two-homer game in a 5-0 win over the Dodgers, giving him 13 for the season - all hit at home! The 13 long balls tied Prince Fielder's franchise record for most homers hit in any month. On April 27th, he hit his first road homer of the year, tying him for the all-time record for homers before May 1st of 14 held by Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. Cody Bellinger joined him on that exclusive list the next day. Yelich then exited the game of April 28th with a stiff lower back and missed the next game as well. On May 24th, he became the first major leaguer to reach the 20-homer mark; he was fastest in franchise history to the mark, doing so in his 45th game, besting the 58 that Fielder had needed in 2007 on his way to hitting a club record 50 long balls. He was also the first major leaguer to hit 30 homers and was named as a starter on the All-Star Game and the #1 seed in the Home Run Derby. When practicing for the Derby on July 5th at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, he hit a ball so hard that it broke a window on a boat moored on the Allegheny River outside the park. "The legend of Yeli," teammate Ryan Braun told reporters. "That’s how legends are made." However, he withdrew from the contest at the last minute, because of a back issue. On September 7th, he stole his 30th base, which gave him not only a 30-30 season (30 HRs and 30 SBs), but also only the 12th 40-30 season in history. Unfortunately, his season ended abruptly only a few days later, on September 10th, when he fractured a kneecap when he lined a foul ball directly into his knee in the 1st inning of a game against the Miami Marlins. He was hitting .329 in 130 games, with 44 homers and 97 RBIs. He was leading the league with an OBP of .429, a slugging percentage of .671 and an OPS of 1.100. Obviously, his injury was a huge blow to the Brewers' postseason chances. Indeed he was unable to return and missed the Wild Card Game in which the Brewers were eliminated by the Washington Nationals. However, he did win the batting title for the second straight year.

On March 6, 2020, he signed a contract extension for nine years worth $187.25 million. He started the season that was delayed and shortened by the Coronavirus pandemic in a bad slump, going 1 for 27 in his first 6 games in July, his only hit being a long ball. He did better after the calendar turned to August and on August 6th hit his second homer on an unusual play. His hit to deep left field against the Chicago White Sox bounced in front of LF Eloy Jimenez, but when he tried to snag it, he got tangled up in the netting meant to protect the (non-existent) fans from foul balls hit down the left field line, while the ball rolled into the corner. By the time Jimenez had extricated himself, recovered the ball and relayed it back to the infield, Yelich had had time to circle the bases for an inside-the-park homer. He finished the season at .205 in 58 games, with 12 homers and 22 RBIs, his OPS+ falling to 110. In the postseason, the Brewers were swept in two games by the Dodgers in the Wild Card Series while he went 2 for 9 with a double. 2021 was another down year - even worse than the previous one in fact. Injuries limited him to 117 games, during which he batted .248, but with almost no power: just 9 homers and a .373 slugging percentage. His OPS+ fell some more, to 99, but the Brewers still managed to claim a division title, making it to the postseason for the fourth straight year. They faced the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series and Yelich continued to struggle, going 3 for 15 with no esxtra-base hits or RBIs in the four games.

Heading into the 2022, there were questions about whether Christian was done as a productive major league hitter. He didn't really assuage these as batted just .230 in April, with 3 homers. He did show a flash of his former greatness on May 11th, when he hit for the cycle for the third time of his career, joining an exclusive club that only numbered four other players: Long John Reilly, Bob Meusel, Babe Herman and Adrian Beltre. Like the previous two time, the feat came against the Cincinnati Reds, making him the only man to victimize the same team three times, although this once came in a loss, a 14-11 slugfest. On September 6th, he was credited with the longest homer hit by any player in the majors that season when he hit a ball at a distance of 499 feet against Chad Kuhl of the Colorado Rockies; it was in fact the third longest homer of the Statcast era, behind monster shots by Nomar Mazara and Giancarlo Stanton that had both traveled over 500 feet. However, it was only his 12th homer of the year, which, while better than the previous year's total of 9, was still way off the pace of the years when he was one of the most dominant hitters in the majors.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2013 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 2-time NL All-Star (2018 & 2019)
  • 2018 NL MVP
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (2014/LF)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2016, 2018 & 2019)
  • 2-time NL Batting Average Leader (2018 & 2019)
  • NL On-Base Percentage Leader (2019)
  • 2-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (2018 & 2019)
  • 2-time NL OPS Leader (2018 & 2019)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (2018)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2016, 2018 & 2019)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2018 & 2019)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2018)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2017-2019 & 2023)

2017 2018 2019
Giancarlo Stanton Christian Yelich Cody Bellinger


Further Reading[edit]

  • Gabe Lacques: "Brewers' Christian Yelich wins NL Most Valuable Player award", USA Today, November 15, 2018. [1]
  • Jack Magruder: "'Pro's pro' Yeli nearing home run, stolen base milestones",, March 21, 2024. [2]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Yelich shies from MVP talk, but stats say it all: In thick of playoff chase, Brewers star pacing NL in numerous traditional, advanced categories",, September 21, 2018. [3]
  • Adam McCalvy: "After tough '20, Yelich ready for 'fresh start'",, February 26, 2021. [4]
  • Adam McCalvy: "'Zeros for everybody': Yelich eyes clean slate",, October 6, 2021. [5]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Yelich triples to become 5th member of 3-cycle club: Former MVP aiming to stay 'underwater' by acknowledging highs, lows of long season",, May 11, 2022. [6]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Yelich goes 'off the grid' to recharge for '23",, February 20, 2023. [7]
  • Sam Miller: "How Christian Yelich turned himself into an MVP",, September 2, 2019. [8]
  • Bob Nightengale: "'It feels right to me': Christian Yelich, Brewers thrilled about new $188.5 million contract", USA Today, March 6, 2020. [9]
  • Todd Rosiak: "Right field: Christian Yelich's defensive versatility will be tested", The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 21, 2018. [10]

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