Christian Yelich, once hailed as one of the biggest rising stars in all of baseball, found himself navigating tough and challenging waters.
Having soared to prominence with impressive top-two finishes in the NL MVP race, including a triumphant win in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder experienced a shift in fortunes, quietly transitioning from the glare of superstardom to the role of a reliable team player.
While Yelich didn’t regress into mediocrity, his once-blazing star power seemed to dim. Over the years following 2019, his performance became steady, consistently solid-to-good, rather than flamboyantly exceptional.
The stark contrast between his two straight seasons of posting over seven bWAR and the subsequent three years, which saw a 4.4 bWAR, was evident. Nonetheless, the 2023 season marked a resurgence for Yelich, as he rapidly reclaimed his prominence within the Brewers lineup.
Across 117 games this season, Yelich showcased a rekindled prowess, amassing an impressive 3.2 bWAR – outpacing every other player on the Brewers’ roster. His OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) of .831 stood as his highest since 2019, a testament to his renewed offensive impact.
In a testament to his revitalized approach, his strikeout rate dropped to 20.7 percent, mirroring his statistics during his peak years as a superstar.
“You can still be a good player,” Yelich said, via The Athletic. “Obviously everyone’s always going to compare your best career seasons. You can do that with any player. You can take any guy’s best season.”
“I know that you’re going to be compared to those seasons sometimes, but I think I’m pretty capable of having productive years. Which I’ve done this year and continue to do.”
Amidst the Brewers pursuit of an NL Central title, Yelich emerged as the linchpin of their offensive attack. As injuries plagued some of their top pitching talents, the team looked to Yelich to lead them forward. He embraced this responsibility, showcasing exceptional performance across various metrics, including RBI, hits, and the triple-slash line.
The 2023 season not only highlighted Yelich’s resurgence but also served as a testament to his mental fortitude and dedication to growth. Refusing to be haunted by the ghosts of his past successes, he embraced the mantra of continuous improvement and adaptability.
“If you try and chase years prior, it doesn’t really work that way,” Christian Yelich said. “You kind of just have to start everything new. When you’ve played a lot of games and taken a lot of at-bats – you never have it figured out, by any means, in baseball. But you definitely had good times, had bad times. You learn from it.”
Yelich’s bounce-back season is a credit to his focus and determination and is an enormous reason why Milwaukee looks to be on their way to the postseason.
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