A Christian Yelich Tear Is Making Brewers Baseball Fun Again

Not long ago, it seemed that Christian Yelich's prime was well behind us. His recent hot streak is proving that that's not the case at all.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 21: Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the Miami Marlins during the fourth inning of the game at loanDepot park on May 21, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

If you came into the 2024 regular season thinking that Christian Yelich was going to continue on a downward trend, you’re certainly not alone. The 2018 NL MVP and 2019 runner up in the voting has seen his production fall off a cliff in recent years, mostly due to multiple back injuries and a fractured knee cap.

Yelich, 32, put together two of the greatest seasons in Milwaukee Brewers history and then, for three full seasons, went ghost.

Any time you go from those two years to a .205 average the following season, you know something’s wrong. If you show up the next with an improved batting average but a much worse OPS, the problem hasn’t been fixed.

Yelich went through three straight seasons of above-average but far below his average performances. Last year, he bounced back nicely, driving in 76 runs and hitting above .270 with an OPS north of .800 for the first time since 2019.

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To kick off the current campaign, he went on a tear through his first 11 games, hitting .333/.422/.744 with a 1.166 OPS before yet another back injury – low back discomfort – sidelined him for a few weeks.

Now back in the lineup on a daily basis, Yelich has continued his red-hot play. In 24 games since his return, he’s driven in 16 runs and boasts a .312/.391/.441 line with an .831 OPS.

We’re no longer looking at Yelich as just a nice comeback story. Now, he’s making the Milwaukee Brewers and their brand of baseball fun again.

Christian Yelich Is Making Brewers Baseball Fun Again

The Brewers have quietly been a fun team for years now, but they sometimes fall under the radar due to their small-market nature and not having as much star power as the likes of the Cardinals or Cubs do in their lineups.

That said, though, there’s no denying a simple fact: when Yelich is on top of his game, this Brewers team is just that much more electric.

He’s been tearing the cover off of the ball to start the year, but he’s far from the only member of the Brew Crew’s lineup to be excelling. Entering the day, Milwaukee is second in all of baseball in runs scored, third in batting average and stolen bases and fourth in walk percentage. This is a team that’s firing on all cylinders and, as was the case during Yelich’s 2018 and ’19 seasons, he’s right in the middle of all the action.

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Through his first 35 games of the year, the 12-year veteran has 14 extra-base hits (six home runs) with 27 RBI and a 162 OPS+. He’s got a .318 batting average, his highest in five years, and has a cool .930 OPS, which puts him 9th in all of baseball amongst players with at least 140 plate appearances.

He’s been getting it done against both right- and left-handers this year, too. Against righties, Yelich is hitting .297 with an .868 OPS in 105 plate appearances. Against southpaws, albeit in a smaller sample size, he’s hitting .351 with a 1.077 OPS in 42 plate appearances.

Yelich’s success goes even deeper than that, though. He has been phenomenal with runners in scoring position, hitting .415 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 45 plate appearances. Need him to step up in the clutch? He does that as well. In high-leverage instances, Yelich has 10 RBI and a .364 average in 28 chances. No matter which way you look at it, he’s been outstanding this year.

Yelich has been a Statcast darling this year, too. He is in the 93rd percentile in Batting Run Value and 97th in Baserunning as of right now. He’s also in the 80th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, Avg Exit Velocity, Hard-Hit %, and BB %.+

Just five days ago, Yelich had the best game he’s had in quite some time, going 5-for-6 with two doubles, a run scored and a stolen base. Performances like this were considered normal for him when he was at his peak, so it’s been nice to see some vintage Yelich returning.

The Brewers Are Rolling

Things are going pretty well for the first-place Brewers right now, and a red-hot Christian Yelich has been a massive part of that. The club is 36-25 and has a comfortable six game advantage over the Cubs and seven game gap over Cardinals.

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With a +60 run differential, good for third in the National League, these Brewers are here to stay. The club has always had a knack for finding players other teams gave up on too soon, and this year’s team is no different, as the likes of Blake Perkins, Bryan Hudson, Jared Koenig and Trevor Megill are amongst the top contributors on the active roster.

Keeping Yelich healthy and on his A-game is going to be crucial for the Brewers. The emergence of William Contreras as one of the best catchers in the game certainly helps matters, but Yelich has already cemented himself as one of the best to ever do it in Milwaukee. They need him to keep this up.