2016 stats: 155 G, 659 PA, .298 AVG, .376 OBP, 21 HR, 98 RBI, 4.4 WAR
Almost since the minute Giancarlo Stanton first took the field in 2010, Miami’s outfield has consisted of Stanton and everyone else, especially to the spectators of the other 29 major league teams around the country.
Heading into the 2016 season, despite strong showings by both Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich in 2014 and 2015 respectively, that perception had hardly changed. Yelich, in particular, was starting to gain national attention after posting a .300 average with 16 stolen bases in 2015, and earning a Gold Glove in 2014, but was not yet a star in his own right.
Well, after his strong 2016 campaign, there is no doubt that Christian Yelich is now a household name throughout the entire league. Yelich came out of the gates hot, batting .346 in April, and did not slow down until a late September slide. He posted career highs in games, hits (172), doubles (38), home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage (.483), and on base percentage on the way to being named the 19th Most Valuable Player in the National League.
Yelich predominantly batted third this past season, where he enjoyed most of his success, but also took over the fourth spot for Giancarlo Stanton when he was out with a groin injury late in the season. Among the most notable stats of Yelich’s 2016 season was the power surge which scouts have been saying was possible since he debuted in the majors. Yelich had never even hit ten homers in a season, and then crushed 21 this year, which was third-highest on the team.
Yelich’s breakout season, coupled with a second injury-riddled year in a row for Stanton and another up-and-down year for Marcell Ozuna, has cemented his place as Miami’s most valuable outfielder. Luckily for the Marlins, they signed him to an extension early, and he still has five years remaining on the seven-year, $49.5 million deal he signed just before the 2015 campaign.
As a reward for his incredible season, Yelich has been been given a spot on the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic in March, and he will be playing in the familiar confines of Marlins Park.
Giancarlo Stanton may be signed to a $325 million contract and hit baseballs further than anyone, but this is now Christian Yelich’s outfield.
And he is just getting started.