By all accounts Christian Yelich is a having a good second season, and is right on pace with the typical development of a player in his age 22 season. He has the prettiest swing in baseball, and looks to become one of the foundations and faces of the new era of Miami Marlins baseball.
His numbers have not been quite as good as they were last season when he hit .288/.370/.396 with a .341 wOBA in 273 plate appearances, while this season he enters Sunday’s finale against Atlanta batting .255/.335/.410 with a .331 wOBA in 241 plate appearances. His BABIP appears to have normalized so that could be a reason for the slight dip in his average and on base percentage. Something that stands out from all this are his extremely bizarre platoon splits.
Last season Yelich hit .165/.245/.231 against left-handers and .362/.444/.497 against right-handed pitchers.This is something you would expect to see from a talented young left-handed hitter who is adjusting to major league pitching for the first time. This season his performance has completely reversed. Through Saturday, he is hitting .327/.382/.469 against lefthanders, and .233/.321/.393 against right-handed pitchers. His strikeout rate also rises from 16.5% against lefties to 20.5% against righties.
Now this is almost certainly a product of small sample size, but it is just so bizarre that it felt worth mentioning. Even with the small sample it is clear, that for some reason, Yelich is having trouble against right-handed pitching this season. I would not worry however, common sense would suggest that his numbers will even out as the season progresses. As the season goes on he will likely hit worse against left-handers, but start to handle right-handed pitching like he did in his first season. If that ends up being the case expect Yelich’s average and on base percentage to creep up near the line he put up last season. Whatever happens I expect his full season performance to be impressive enough to show that Yelich is indeed the star in the making scouts, analysts, and the Marlins tabbed him to be when he was in the minors.
Now, if you want to look at this sample from a completely optimistic point of view it is certainly possible that while his struggles against right-handed pitching are just a normal case of bad luck during a long season, his performance against lefties could represent his development as a player and a newfound ability to hit left-handed pitching. If that is the case then let this be a warning to the rest of the National League East, Christian Yelich is about to breakout.