He’s only 23 and he’s batting .218 to start the season after just having signed a 7 year, $49.5M contract to stay in Miami. What were you doing at the age of 23? What kind of expectations did your employer have for you at that time? Do you think you might begin to press a bit? Try to live up to the expectations, and the money?
Of course you would.
Christian Yelich has never had to struggle in this game. If he did, he wouldn’t be were he is. He has had tremendous success; blazing through the Marlins farm system on his way to a Futures game, only to land in the bigs and win a gold glove last year while playing LF. He projects to be a .300 hitter with the potential to one day win a batting crown.
So for him to be hitting as low as he is currently, was alarming. Yet, his work through his struggles, should only attest to his ability as a hitter and growth as a professional.
One of the reasons the Fish have been struggling through the early part of this season is because of over expectation and under execution. Yelich was a hitter who the Marlins were projecting to hit in their two slot and be a highly productive member of the Dee Gordon-Yelich wrecking crew at the top of the lineup that was to set the table for the 300 Million Dollar Man, Giancarlo Stanton. Suffering a back injury seemed to hold back his swing and Yelich just wasn’t picking up where he left off last season.
Yet, over his last 10 games, he is hitting .289 with an 8 game hitting streak. This puts his average back in line with his career average (.288 in 2013, .284 in 2014) but things are not quite where they need to be just yet. His SLG over these past 10 is .368 and his OPS is .676 – both are below his career averages to this point (.400 and .765). He also has 9 strikeouts to his 1 BB over these past 10 games, which far exceeds his career ratios.
So progress is being made in the batter’s box. Yelich is continuing on an upward trend and that is critical for this team’s performance for the short term and the long term. As he continues to battle through his early season struggles, Yelich gains a little more experience and perspective about what it means to be a professional hitter which is also great for this franchise for the long term.