Yes, it’s only spring training. Yes, it’s early. Disclaimers aside, it is quickly becoming clear that Christian Yelich is not only one of the best players on Miami’s roster, he is also one of the most dynamic players in the National League.
With a home run and two runs batted in on Wednesday against the Houston Astros, Yelich is now hitting .444 over four Spring Training games. He paces the team with seven RBIs, almost double that of Miguel Rojas in second place.
Meanwhile, the quote-unquote star of the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, has started slow out of the gates and is now one-for-nine since Spring Training began, with a lowly .495 OPS.
Although Stanton is a notoriously slow starter (.254 career batting average in 133 March/April games, lowest of any month), and four games is an extremely small sample size to draw conclusions from, it may just be Christian Yelich’s time to become the face of this Marlins franchise.
From the moment Yelich took the field in the second half of the 2013 season, it was obvious that the Marlins had a special talent on their hands. Getting recognized while roaming the same outfield as the unofficial home run king of baseball and fan favorite Giancarlo Stanton would be a tall order, though. However, over time, Yelich’s value to this team has become very apparent.
As the injuries started to pile up for Stanton, Yelich quietly put up back-to-back-to-back seasons between 2013 and 2015 batting .284 or above, something that Stanton has never done, to go along with an average OBP of .366. The build up to last season was the first time when Yelich was starting to get national attention, and he has only gotten better from there.
172 hits, 21 home runs, 98 RBIs, a .298 average, and 19th in National League MVP voting; Chrstian Yelich’s stats from last year show that he has become a bona-fide star, and he is only just hitting his stride at 25 years of age.
Yes, Stanton has the ability to change games with one swing of his bat, and he is almost impossible to stop when he gets on a roll, but Yelich is Mr. Consistency, and he has shown that he can produce day-in, day-out for an entire season. It will only mean good things are happening if this discussion is re-ignited during the season but, at the moment, Yelich is stealing a lot of Stanton’s limelight.
The Marlins need both Yelich and Stanton to be at their very best this upcoming season to have a realistic shot at reaching the playoffs. If that happens, Miami might have two outfielders in the running for the MVP award, and at this early stage, Yelich is streaking ahead.