Christian Yelich isn’t the most exciting fantasy OF to own but he can be extremely valuable when paired with the right group of offensive players. He’s likely never going to break the 20 HR mark but carries one elite tool (batting average) and is strong in both Runs and Steals. Overall this makes for an intriguing option in the OF.
Yelich’s great tool is his ability to put bat to ball and get on base. His career triple slash is .290/.365/.406. The slugging leaves a lot to be desired but the AVG and OBP are both really good. Yelich achieves this with a solid line drive swing. While this keeps his average high, it all but eliminates his power stroke. Yelich’s FB% last year was 15.0%. The league average in 2015 was 33.8%. It’s hard to hit home runs when you don’t get much loft on the ball. When Yelich does get the ball up, he hits homeruns at a decent clip: career 12.7% HR/FB. I have doubts that he will ever alter his swing to hit HRs but if he did, it could be the catalyst for him to break the 15 HR mark if not the 20 HR mark.
Some will remember Yelich’s 2015 as a poor season. Expectations were sky high for Yelich coming off of a great 2014 in which he hit 9 HRs, scored 94 runs, stole 21 bases and batted .284 in 144 games. He ended 2015 with 7 HRs, 63 Runs, 16 SBs and a .300 average in 126 games. He suffered a back injury in late April and it lingered after he returned from the DL. Combined with his cold start, his first few months were pretty bad. However, come June, Yelich was fantastic. The chart below shows Yelich’s triple slash and wOBA per month.
(stats from Fangraphs)
Once Yelich was healthy, he was back to his usual self. The chart below shows his 2015 numbers prorated to 150 games.
|Prorated to 150||8.33||75.00||52.38||19.05|
(stats from Fangraphs)
Not spectacular numbers, but factoring in his lingering injury, it certainly seems like the prorated numbers can be improved upon. We also have to keep in mind that when Yelich was at his best at the end of the year, Giancarlo Stanton was on the shelf likely robbing Yelich of a fair number of runs. If Stanton can stay healthy (big IF), Yelich should exceed 80 Runs and could flirt with his career high of 94 in 2014.
Yelich was the 39th OF according to the ESPN player rater in 2015 after being the 26th ranked OF in 2014. Without the power Yelich is unlikely to ever finish in the top 20 of OFs but top 30 is certainly attainable and an uptick in power should get him into the mid-20s easily. It’ll be interesting to see Yelich’s ADP but my assumption is that he’s going to be drafted as a late 30s OF instead of a late 20s OF. There might be some risk here, but the upside is high.
Steamer has Yelich down 12 HR, 75 R, 56 RBI, 16 SB with a .288 AVG and a .361 OBP. I like those numbers quite a bit with the exception of runs. I think Yelich approaches his 2014 level and Giancarlo stays healthy (please stay healthy). I’ll give Yelich 14 HR, 89 R, 65 RBI, 17 SB with a .285 AVG and a .370 OBP.