While hopes were high for a third straight MVP caliber season from Christian Yelich, the Brewers slugger has struggled thus far.
It’s been quite painful to watch, actually. Christian Yelich, the player the Brewers offense centers around, has struggled mightily this season and especially of late.
After breaking his kneecap just about a year ago, Yelich has struggled to regain his form and the circumstances around the 2020 season have not made things any easier for him to try to get in a groove at the plate.
In his last seven games, Yelich is hitting an abysmal .160/.250/.240 with just four hits in 25 ABs with 13 strikeouts. That’s bad. Yelich standards or not, that’s awful no matter who you are.
Time To Drop Yelich In The Order?
It’s clear just by looking at Yelich’s ABs and his body language that he just isn’t himself up there. He’s taking pitches he normally crushes and swings at pitches he normally takes. He’s incredibly frustrated, and curses at himself after each strikeout.
Yelich is pressing. When you press, things only get worse for you at the plate. That’s true throughout baseball history, every hitter knows it, yet so many of them fall into the trap of pressing at the plate during a slump.
He knows he’s vital to the success of this offense and that the team is struggling because he’s not himself. So he’s pressing at the plate and he’s thinking too much, which is actually hurting the team more than it’s helping.
Every day, Craig Counsell has put Yelich into either the 2nd or 3rd spot in the batting order to try to get him as many swings as possible so he can swing his way out of this. After all, Yelich is too good of a hitter for this to continue long-term, right?
At some point, Yelich will get out of this slump and be back to his old self. But will it happen in time for the rest of the 2020 season? Or will it have to wait until 2021?
This is where Craig Counsell’s personal knowledge of Yelich and understanding of his players is going to be key. The way he’s currently hitting, there’s no question that Yelich should be hitting far lower in the batting order, but will that make his mental struggles worse?
Yelich’s Mental Struggles
This issue isn’t a physical thing for Yelich, it’s mental. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s solely between the ears for him. As Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.”
To get Yelich going, what will it take? Obviously a mental adjustment, but what kind of adjustment should it be? Does he need to take a day or two off from the lineup? Does he need to drop lower in the order? Does he need to just stay where he is and hope he finds it?
It’s Counsell’s decision, but he’s already tried giving him a day or two off to get his head right a couple of times this year, and it hasn’t led to a bounceback. He’s been staying up near the top of the order and that still hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s time to drop him in the order.
Put Yelich in the 5th or 6th spot or something and maybe he can figure something out down there. Counsell knows Yelich better than anyone else, so really we should trust whatever he decides to do with him. If he feels dropping Yelich in the order would only further damage his mental psyche, then he shouldn’t do it.
But the Brewers need to try something. Yelich is pressing and he’s in a bad mental spot. Perhaps more 1-on-1 sessions with Andy Haines might help, perhaps another day off would help. Maybe seeing a sports psychologist or a sports performance coach would turn things around mentally, similar to what Corbin Burnes did last offseason.
If Yelich can’t get himself right, the Brewers don’t stand much of a chance even if they do make the playoffs this year.