The Miami Marlins went through the first week of the regular season with some uninspiring performances at the plate. Two players, however, have so far stood out in the first week. Since we're in the spirit of fawning over Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and his absurd batting lines, I figured we would discuss one silly set of numbers on the Marlins. The first is Dee Gordon, who before the game versus the New York Mets last night was hitting .421/.450/.737 on the season with two three-hit efforts and a slew of doubles and triples. For Gordon, this looks very similar to his fiery-hot start in 2015. As Marlins fans, we can only hope this season goes as well as that one.
The other hot start was from Christian Yelich. Yelich was able to deliver a solo home run, his first of the season, on Sunday versus the Washington Nationals. But lost in that eventual 4-2 defeat was that Yelich went 1-for-2 with two walks along with that homer, and that brought his walk total to six on the year. That leaves us with this absurd-looking batting line one week into the season.
I honestly thought at first that the 31.6 percent was the strikeout rate and the walk rate was the smaller 5.3 percent. To my surprise and delight, it was the other way around! Of course, this is just a week-long anomaly that means nothing for the long haul, but it is hilarious to see a player post a 32 percent walk rate, and it goes to show you just how on top of the strike zone Christian Yelich has been.
Of course, it helps when opponents are not throwing you strikes, which has been the case thus far in 2016. Yelich is seeing pitches in the zone at 46 percent thus far this year, which is a little lower than his career rate around 48 percent. However, what stands out more is the fact that he has spat on anything that is not a strike.
That is not a typo. Yelich has swung at 6.7 percent of the pitches that were outside of the strike zone. Even if we look at a rawer strike zone assessment based on the rulebook, as shown by Brooks Baseball's Pitch F/X database, we still see a very selective Yelich.
By this chart, Yelich has swung at only nine of the 63 pitches thrown to him out of the strike zone, a swing rate of 14.2 percent. This is a highly selective rate, but it is made even more impressive by the rate of swings in the zone. Yelich has hacked at 60.5 percent of pitches in the zone according to Pitch F/X as translated by FanGraphs and 66.7 percent as translated by Brooks Baseball. Either way, the swing rate in the zone is exactly what you want out of a hitter. The ideal hitter in terms of selectivity does not allow much in the way of taken strikes and at the same time does not offer often at balls, and so far Yelich has done both at fantastic and honestly absurd rates.
Again, this is just the beginning of the season, and he has already begun correcting for that particular situation. Yelich whiffed three times last night as part of a two-hit effort, and his walk and strikeout rates are already beginning to equilibrate after a crazy start. But in a week in which we were happily discussing the craziest numbers in baseball, I think Christian Yelich quietly put up one of the silliest plate discipline lines I have ever seen, and that is worth mentioning even in this young season.