The Milwaukee Brewers clearly have a superstar on their hands in Christian Yelich. But every time we think we know just how great Yelich is, he somehow gets even better.
If you thought Christian Yelich would regress after his MVP campaign in 2018 where he rode an incredibly hot second half to carry the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL Central title, you weren’t alone. There were plenty of people who thought he would regress to the mean, at least a little bit.
But Christian Yelich wasn’t one of those people in that camp and after his first half in 2019, now that camp is an abandoned ghost town. Yelich has not only failed to regress from his 2018 numbers, he’s somehow gotten better.
Christian Yelich By The Numbers
This season, Yelich is hitting .349/.441/.760 with a 1.201 OPS with 15 doubles, two triples, 29 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. Yelich has an OPS+ of 203, which means he’s hitting 103% better than a league-average hitter. That leads all of baseball.
Besides OPS+, Yelich also leads the National League in home runs, stolen bases, slugging, OPS, and total bases. He leads all of baseball in every one of those categories except stolen bases.
Yelich is barreling balls up at an enormously high percentage, with a 52.9% hard hit rate. That’s the best of his career by a wide margin.
2019 Yelich compared to 2018 Yelich
What’s really remarkable about Yelich’s performance this year is the comparisons from this year to last year.
In 2018, Yelich had a 10.4% BB rate, this year, it’s up three percent to 13.4%. He had a 20.7% strikeout rate, this year, it’s down more than three percent to 17.3%. His BABIP, which sat at .373 last year gave many an indication that regression was near in 2019.
This year, his BABIP is down to .341, which should mean a drop in batting average, but his batting average is up from .326 to .349 in 2019.
His BABIP dropped 32 points and his batting average has gone up more than 20 points. That’s insane.
Yelich’s wOBA is up from .422 to .474, his wRC+ is up from 166 to 195, and his ISO is up from .272 to .411 this year. His hard hit rate is up from 47.6% to 52.9%.
Explaining The Power Surge
Last year, Yelich finished with a 35% HR/FB ratio, which seemed really high and fairly unsustainable, especially given his penchant for hitting ball on the ground most of the time. But there’s something different this year.
His fly ball percentage is up from 23.5% last year to 38.5% this year, and his HR/FB rate has increased up to 36.5%.
Yelich is hitting ground balls at a 43.8% clip, by far the lowest of his career. His previous low was last season at 51.8%. His line drive percentage also decreased from 24.7% to 17.8% this year.
So Christian Yelich is getting more balls in the air, and they’re flying out of the ballpark at a slightly higher rate than they did last year. Whether Yelich is embracing the launch angle revolution or not, he’s been getting more balls in the air and they’ve continued to fly out.
Yelich is in the race for the Triple Crown once again this season. After falling just a little short last year, the Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder leads the league in home runs and is second in the league in RBIs and batting average. He’s within striking distance of both.
We thought it was impossible to improve upon his second half in 2018. We thought that he reached the summit of Mt. Everest, but little did we know that he had still had some climbing left to do. 2019 Yelich is better than 2018 Yelich, and all we can do is just sit here in amazement.
The Milwaukee Brewers have seen Yelich play at this high of a level for so long now, that it can’t be considered a fluke. This is real, this is who Yelich is as a hitter, and he’s easily a Top 5, and most likely a Top 3 hitter in MLB and an MVP contender for years to come, and possibly a Hall of Famer.