The Miami Marlins have gotten a great start to the 2016 season from Christian Yelich, who has been one of the best hitters in baseball to start this year. Yelich has been hitting the ball hard all season, he has been patient all season long, and the results have been amazing to watch. Yelich is hitting .343/.449/.533 (.426 wOBA) on the year, and a big reason for that is his uncanny ability to keep getting on base. So far in 2016, Yelich has started in 29 games with the other game coming in a lone pinch hitting appearance. In that pinch-hitting chance, Yelich recorded an out. In every other game this year, he has reached base at least once. He has gotten aboard via hit or walk in 28 of those 29 games, with a hit-by-pitch being the only other reach event in one game.
This is a great streak for Yelich, and one that has helped Miami climb back into this season after starting to bury themselves in a rut in the middle of April. But is it among the best streaks the Marlins have ever seen? We all know about the hit streaks for the Marlins, with Luis Castillo owning the longest run in team history at 35 games. However, what are the best streaks in terms of reaching base? Let's take a look at those streaks and see how Yelich is faring to open the season.
|Player||Season||TOB Streak (Games)|
If you are counting any games played, including non-starts, Castillo's 2002 streak of 49 games, which included his 35-game hit streak, is the longest of the year, and it would be difficult to match that up. Since 1993, that would be tied for the 15th-longest streak in baseball history. However a fair number of Marlins have pulled closer than expected. Kevin Millar (how about that 2002 offense, apparently?) and Logan Morrison both logged streaks of greater than 40 games as well. Several Marlins have managed streaks of at least 30 games, and several more have come close to that.
In fact, Yelich himself has a streak close to 30 games. He posted a 29-game streak in 2014 if you count bench appearances as well (27 games as a starter), and he also owns a separate 24-game streak from last season. When you look at the profile of players in that list of top ten streaks, it makes sense to see why Yelich will eventually join that group. Castillo, Millar, Cliff Floyd, Hanley Ramirez, and Morrison have all had reasonable walk rates around 10 percent throughout their hitting careers. Yelich has developed a profile this season that more closely approaches a hybrid of Luis Castillo and Cliff Floyd, and that has helped to lead him to plenty of on-base opportunities.
Which starter streaks does he have to get past to make the top ten? Yelich is at 29 games as of yesterday's afternoon contest, tied with Greg Colbrunn's 1996 streak and Dave Magadan's 1993 streak (old school name warnings!). At 30 games is a set of streaks from Hanley Ramirez, Juan Pierre, and current Marlins broadcaster Preston Wilson from 2002. The team's 30-game streaks follow thereafter. Yelich faces the Milwaukee Brewers with the rest of the Fish coming up next, but he will do so at Marlins Park and not the relative bandbox of Miller Park. He only had one hit in their most recent three-game set, though he did walk three times.
Yelich's streak is at 29 games as a starter, but he has a long way to go until he can reach the most special streaks of even the most recent era. Since the scoring environment has changed in 2010, 89 players have a streak of 29 or more games as a starter. Joey Votto's top mark of 48 games is a big target, but once Yelich gets to 35 games, the company is a little more sparse. Only 36 players have made it to 35 games, and only 30 have gotten to 36. By the time you reach 40 games, just 17 names since 2010 have gotten on base consecutively in that many games. That is an interesting target for Yelich, but he is exactly the type of player with decent contact skills and a fantastic eye at the plate to be able to reach that goal.