Christian Yelich posted a career-best season for the Marlins in 2016. But, can fantasy owners believe in the power numbers heading into next season?
Christian Yelich has quietly been one of the better all-around players in MLB for the Marlins since becoming a full-time starter in 2014. The power uptick came out of nowhere, though, and even though many thought that he had it him, can fantasy believe in the power moving forward?
Yelich is a talented player but lost some luster in fantasy circles because he did not offer much outside of AVG numbers. Last season he bucked that label, though, posting a .298/21HR/98 RBI/9 SB/78 R/.859 OPS line. He played in a career-high 155 games as well, further adding to what was already a career season.
He is a career .293 hitter in the majors, and there no reason to think that he will stop posting solid AVG numbers. The 9 SB are discouraging, he only attempted 13 SB last season, so owners may need to expect nothing more than 10 SB from him next season.
His 98 RBI were stellar, and even though his 78 R were not a career high, his counting stats were more than acceptable. The Marlins quietly may have one of the best top-to-bottom lineups in baseball. If Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna can stay healthy and productive, and Dee Gordon can stay on the field, the counting stats will be there again next season.
With his floor being pretty much set, the power will be the one factor that sways his value one way or another. Looking at his batted ball data, he posted career high rates in his LD%, FB%, Pull%, and his Hard Contact%.
In 2016 those rates read as followed; 23% LD, 20% FB, 36%, and 38% Hard contact. Combine all those upticks into one season, and it is clear to see why he was able to boost his HR total. He hit the ball harder and in the air more to the shorter side of the field in 2016. Marlins Park is not exactly a hitters paradise, and Yelich has struggled to post solid power numbers in years prior, he even had eight homers at home last season.
Even though he has struggled, it is not as though he is not launching his fair share of balls. He does have a wiry frame, but he averaged 407 ft. per HR last season. When he barrels the ball up, it flies.
These contact rates have been climbing the past few seasons, and with Yelich’s bat control, there is no reason he can not continue to focus on getting the ball in the air more. Fantasy owners should not expect a perennial 25+ HR threat, but there is no reason to not think a .290/20 HR/90 RBI/10 SB/90 R type of season is not sustainable.
Aggressively target him in 2017, as Yelich is really coming into his own for the Marlins. He is a solid OF2, that really does not hurt owners in any one category.