Postseason Run A Long Time Coming For Christian Yelich
On October 12, 2017 the New York Yankees and Houston Astros had already played the first two games of what would be an epic American League Championship Series. At the same time, the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers started their battle for the National League pennant.
These two series pitted baseball’s best against each other, putting on a show enjoyed by many. Meanwhile, sitting at home, yearning for a chance to play in October, was a certain Miami Marlins outfielder.
The Marlins drafted Yelich in 2010 out of high school, and he was a consistent performer. In his first five years with Miami, he hit .290 with a .800 OPS, averaging 12 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases a season. He was solid, but he was not a legitimate star. Miami failed to make the playoffs for his entire tenure with the team.
On October 2, 2017, ten days prior, Yelich’s fortunes changed when Derek Jeter’s group bought the franchise. The new group inherited an organization riddled with debt, making it appear that the team needed to trade some of its core pieces. Signed to a seven-year, $49.57contract, Yelich was part of the facelift.
On January 25, 2018, the Brewers announced that they had acquired Yelich. After falling short in 2017, the Brewers aggressively pursued him, knowing that he was the difference-maker they needed. Miller Park became the change of scenery necessary to spark Yelich’s transformation into an All-Star, an honor he earned for the first time in 2018.
After the All-Star Game, Yelich completed his transformation into a star and an MVP candidate. This is evident by his hitting .367 with 25 home runs, 67 RBIs, and a 1.219 OPS in the second half.
On October 1, 2018, Yelich officially won the National League batting title, hitting .326 for the season. He also finished second in the league with 36 home runs and 110 RBI. With these numbers, he narrowly missed becoming the first National League Triple Crown winner since Joe Medwick in 1937. When not driving in runs, he was making sure he was in a position to score runs as well, stealing 20 bases.
Yelich’s transformation made him both a better slugger and on-base batter, leading the league in slugging percentage at .592 with an on-base percentage of .402, good for a 1.000 OPS. It took 163 games, but Yelich also helped Milwaukee win the National League Central, ensuring he would get to play more than just one game in his first postseason experience.
October 7, 2018, his first playoff series ended as a successful one. In a small sample size of 14 plate appearances, Yelich had a .571 OBP and 1.196 OPS on route to a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
Now on October 12, 2018, Yelich prepares to take on the Dodgers, defending National League Champions. With six straight division titles and a National League Championship Series appearance in four of those campaigns, the Dodgers are loaded with experience in the limelight.
The emergence of Yelich in 2018 will be remembered around Milwaukee for years to come. However, leading the charge past the Dodgers to the World Series would cement Yelich’s legacy in Milwaukee’s baseball lore.
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