We’ve been going over the Marlins all-time roster since the 2020 season ended.
With the first 622 already published, we’ve saved the best eight for these last seven days before the 2021 regular season. Today’s honoree, Christian Yelich, ranks seventh on the all-time Marlins leaderboard with 17.5 bWAR. That’s on a raw “above replacement level” basis. On a per-plate appearance metric, he averaged .00622 bWAR. For context, yesterday’s player, number nine Miguel Cabrera, averaged .00596. Tomorrow’s player, number seven, averaged .00626 per batter faced.
8. Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich is a six-foot-three lefty batting, righty-throwing outfielder from Thousand Oaks, California. Born on December 5, 1991, he was taken in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Marlins, with the 23rd overall selection out of Westlake HS. By the time the 2011 season came around, Yelich was ranked third overall in the Marlins system by Baseball America.
Yelich eventually rose to the number 15 overall prospect in all of baseball in 2013, and also made his major league debut with the Marlins. In 62 contests, he played mostly in left field and hit .288/.370/.396 with four homers and 16 RBI. He also stole 10 bases without getting caught, and fielded 544 1⁄3 innings without an error. He totaled 21 multiple-hit games, including August 13, when he drew a walk in the third, singled in the eighth, and broke a scoreless tie in the 10th with an eventual game-winning RBI-single.
In 2014, Yelich again played mostly in left field, and won his first (and thus far only) National League Gold Glove. At the plate, he hit .284/.362/.402 with nine homers, 54 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Fifty times in his 144 overall appearances, Yelich finished with more than one hit. On June 10, Yelich was the big hero in an 8-5 win against the Texas Rangers, with a pair of singles, a pair of doubles, and four RBI.
Although Yelich has yet to win another Gold Glove since that 2014 campaign, he continued to be a solid defender in left field. In 786 2⁄3 innings at the seven in 2015, Yelich was a dozen DRS above the NL average left fielder. Although he missed a month of the season due to injury, Yelich hit .300/.366/.416 in 126 contests, with seven round-trippers, 44 RBI, and went 16-of-21 in steal attempts.
On May 11, Yelich hit a come-from-behind, go-ahead ninth inning homer against Yimi Garcia, taking a 3-2 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Steve Cishek couldn’t hold it, however, coughing up a walk-off homer to Scott Van Slyke in the bottom of the inning.
In 2016, Yelich found his power stroke for the first time, hitting 21 home runs for the Marlins with a team-best 98 RBI. He won the NL Silver Slugger Award for left fielders, with a line of .298/.376/.483. He added another 18 long-balls in 2017, his final season with the Malrins, along with 81 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts.
We all know what happened next for Yelich. He signed a nine-year, $242 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, then backed it up by slashing .327/.415/.631 with 80 homers, 207 RBI, and 52 stolen bases in 58 attempts through his first two seasons with them. He won Silver Sluggers in both seasons, made the All-Star team for both seasons, and took home the MVP in 2018 and finished second in 2019. In 2020, he regressed and hit just .205 in 58 games.
Check back tomorrow for the third-highest pitcher on our countdown.