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MLB: Christian Yelich is still the best hitter in baseball

Jason Hirsch
ANALYST
Feature
71   //    06 Apr 2019, 14:52 IST

Christian Yelich: Milwaukee Brewers Superstar
Christian Yelich: Milwaukee Brewers Superstar

When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Christian Yelich prior to the 2018 MLB season, they knew were getting a special hitter. Rather than just special, Yelich has played more like Ted Williams since he left the Marlins in their most recent fire sale.

Yelich’s .326 Batting Average, .598 Slugging %, 1.000 On-Base plus Slugging %, 164 OPS+, and 343 Total Bases were league-leading stats in their respective categories across all of baseball during the 2018 season. Those are five different individual statistical categories that Yelich was the leader in.

 In his final 64 games of the 2018 season, Yelich hit to a borderline ridiculous slash line of .367/.449/.770. That sort of slash line rivals (and arguably passes) Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 MLB season where he hit to a slash line of .357/.440/.643 while recording at least one hit in 56 consecutive games on his way to winning the 1941 AL MVP award.

Yelich’s 13-game stretch last September rivals Carl Yastrzemski's 12-game stretch during September of 1967. During his final 13 games of 2018, Yelich went a combined 21-for-43 with six home runs, 21 runs batted in, and 17 runs.

Yelich also had 13 extra-base hits (including five doubles and two triples) while hitting to a slash line of .488/.621/1.116 with an OPS of 1.737. Yastrzemski meanwhile, went 23-for-45 with five home runs, 16 runs batted in, and 14 runs while hitting to a slash line of .523/.604/.955 with an OPS of 1.558.

(Credits to SB Nation for this graphic).
(Credits to SB Nation for this graphic).

Unfortunately, Yelich largely struggled in the 2018 postseason when the Brewers ended up one game short of making the World Series. Yelich’s slash line during the playoffs was a measly .194/.383/.389 with an OPS of .772 in 36 at-bats.

This following a campaign where Yelich posted a WAR of 7.6, the eighth highest in all of baseball including the third highest in the National League and the sixth highest among all position players in baseball (highest among position players in the National League by a fair margin. Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals had the second highest WAR in the NL among position players at 6.2).

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2018 MLB WAR Leaders
2018 MLB WAR Leaders

Yelich's struggles during the playoffs left people wondering if his final 60 games of 2018 were merely a ridiculous hot streak. Through the first seven games of the 2019 MLB season, Yelich is showing that not only was 2018 not a fluke, but it was actually a sign of things to come.

Through the first seven games of 2019, Yelich is still hitting a ridiculous slash line. As of April 6th, 2019, he is slashing a line of .375/.531/1.000 with an OPS of 1.531. Yelich also leads baseball with Runs Created at 12.2, is fourth in Runs Created Per 27 Outs with 18.32, is third in Isolated Power with an IP of .552 and has the third highest Secondary Average in baseball at .862.

While it may be premature to talk about the landscape of what will occur during the 2019 MLB season, from what I can see thus far, Christian Yelich is still the best hitter in all of professional baseball. 

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