In 2010, Yelich committed to a baseball scholarship to the University of Miami, his senior year at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, California. That season, he hit .451 (37-for-82) with 14 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 25 RBIs in 28 games for Westlake. Westlake High is the same program that produced big leaguers Matt Franco, Mike Lieberthal, and John Snyder.
In 2011, Baseball America rated Yelich as the third best prospect in the Marlins' organization. Christian was the #1 prospect in the Marlins' farm system in the spring of 2012. And he was at #2 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
In 2011, Yelich was named the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year. He was third in the South Atlantic League in batting (.312) and ranked among league leaders in doubles (32), total bases (223), steals (32), on-base percentage (.388), and OPS (.871).
Christian was also named the 2012 Marlins Minor League Player of the Year. That year, he led the Florida State League in slugging percentage (.519), ranked second in average and on-base percentage (.404), and third in runs scored (76), while earning FSL Mid-Season and Annual All-Star honors.
March 2013: When Marlins manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez are asked about Yelich, their eyes light up. "I'll tell you, man, I love putting him in that lineup," Redmond said. "Every opportunity I have to put him in there, I get him in there. He gives you a great at-bat. It doesn't matter who he faces. Believe me, we go around and around [on where he'll start the season]. That's something that we'll have to talk about."
Added Martinez: "He's ready. I don't know where he's going to go. I don't know where they're going to send him. I mean, he's having a great spring and he's proved he can play at this level. And I don't see anything changing. It's obvious he's a great hitter. I haven't messed with him. He can just hit."
Yelich's goal when he came to 2013 spring training was to relax and learn as much as possible as long as he was in big league camp. He said that the mindset has translated into success so far and watching how veterans like Juan Pierre and Chone Figgins prepare to go to work has been a plus.
MLB Debut - July 23, 2013: Yelich said he could not have dreamed up a better Major League debut after he went 3-for-4 with three singles and drove in two of the Marlins' four runs. Yelich joined Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Redmond as the only Marlins to collect three hits in their debuts.
Based on his family’s athletic roots, Yelich seemed destined to play football.
His uncle, Chris Yelich, won two Rose Bowls as an offensive lineman with UCLA in the 1980s. And his mother’s grandfather was the late Fred Gehrke, a halfback for the old Cleveland and Los Angeles Rams.
Gehrke, who died in 2002 when Yelich was 10, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for something he did off the field. In 1948, he designed the team’s distinctive logo: yellow horns on a background of dark blue. He was an art major at the University of Utah and is credited with pioneering the practice of football teams putting their logos on their helmets.
“It’s pretty cool that he made some pretty revolutionary changes in football. Having done that is pretty special,’’ Yelich said of Gehrke, who also served as the Denver Broncos general manager.
Yelich’s football career never got past flag games in middle school in Southern California. He also played basketball and soccer, but he took a particular liking to baseball.
“He has some good genes—football genes, not baseball genes, but athletic genes nonetheless,’’ his mother, Alecia Yelich, said with a laugh.
Christian had a busy offseason before 2013 spring training. He played in the Arizona Fall League, and worked out every day with a personal trainer in hopes of hitting for more power.
He also spent time working out with Tarrik Brock, the Marlins’ minor league outfield coordinator. Yelich’s work ethic doesn’t surprise people who know him.
“You look at Christian and his brother, you can tell they have a plan,’’ said Zach Miller, who was Yelich’s baseball coach at Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif. “You can tell they come from a well-disciplined athletic family, and academics was always number one.”
Yelich gives credit to his Mom: Alecia Yelich traveled with Christian to tournaments across the United States to give him every chance to be seen by scouts.
“He’s harder on himself than anyone else,’’ Alecia Yelich said. “He’s kind of a perfectionist.”
Miller remembers Yelich as a quick learner with exceptional hand-eye coordination. He played left field as a freshman and first base as a sophomore before moving to shortstop in his junior year, at Miller’s request, to fill a roster vacancy.
In his senior year, he played third base. “But he stayed after practice to shag balls in center field because he knew that he was going to the outfield as a pro," Miller said. "He’s very humble. He’s not too emotional. You couldn’t tell if he was 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. He’s just that kind of guy." (Joe Capozzi - 8/31/2013)
Yelich declined a scholarship offer from UCLA and committed to the University of Miami. But when the Marlins drafted him, he decided to go pro.
Following is an interview Baseball Life had with Christian Yelich:
Baseball Life: Who was your favorite MLB Player and MLB Team when you were younger? Has that changed today or are they still the same?
Christian Yelich: I never really had a favorite team, but my favorite player was Derek Jeter and its still that way today because of how he carries himself on and off the field.
BL: You were a high school star at Westlake High School and you were involved in the 2008 and 2009 Perfect Game Wood Bat Championships. What was your proudest accomplishment during your high school career?
CY: My best high school baseball memory was winning that World Wood Bat tournament. It was a great group of guys and a lot of them are now playing professional baseball.
BL: You had committed to the University of Miami prior to being drafted in 2010 by the Marlins. Describe that day for us and tell us what you were doing and how you got the news. Did you have any idea that Miami was going to be the one and how hard was it to forgo the University of Miami?
CY: Going into the draft I had no idea what was going to happen or when I was going to be picked. Thankfully, the Marlins gave me this opportunity and I ended up forgoing the University of Miami because in the end, my dream was always to play professional baseball.
BL: As you made the transition from high school baseball to pro-ball, what was the most difficult challenge? You were quite a distance from home as well, from one coast to the other. You also experienced positional changes as well. From the infield to the outfield, how smooth was the move?
CY: I think the biggest adjustment to pro ball for me was learning to play everyday and changing positions. Moving to the outfield has gone well and very smoothly and that’s a testament to our player development staff and coaches who have worked with me.
BL: By all accounts, you are one of the most disciplined and nicest young men around. Who had the most influence on your life and how you are able to handle the pressures and ins and outs of the everyday Minor League lifestyle with such great professionalism?
CY: My Mom has had the most influence on me and I would just have to say it goes back to the way I was raised.
BL: Is there a specific workout routine that you do to enhance your speed, power and hitting ability? CY: In the offseason I workout with a couple other baseball players and just focus on baseball related movements and exercises.
BL: What type of music do you like? What is your current “Walk-Out” song? What is the most played artist on your current I-pod playlist? CY: I like all music for the most part except hardcore metal. My current walk up song is “Cameras” by Drake.
BL: If you were not playing baseball, what would be your chosen profession? CY: If I wasn’t playing baseball, your going to think this a little crazy, but I wanted to be a Navy Seal and that’s before they've had all this recent publicity. I'd just like being a part of the best of the best.
BL: What is your favorite baseball movie of all time? CY: Bull Durham.
BL: Describe yourself in one word. CY: Dedicated.
BL: If you could be any Superhero, who would it be and why would you choose that hero? CY: I would be Batman because that would mean I was also Bruce Wayne.
In 2014, Yelich was named the Marlins' Heart and Hustle Award winner, as selected by the MLB Players Alumni Association. (7/22/2014)
Spring 2015: Combine the sweet swing, the better-than-average speed and solid hitting approach, and the Marlins feel Christian Yelich has the makings to be a batting champion.
In the eyes of the organization, Yelich is a rising star, which is one reason it was eager to lock up the left fielder to a long-term deal. Manager Mike Redmond spoke about what the future may hold for the 2014 National League Gold Glove-winning left fielder. Could a batting title be on the horizon?
"That could be a possibility," Redmond said. "He definitely has the swing, the pitch selection, and makes the contact to be able to hit for a high average. I think his power is something that will get better and improve. This guy is still lean. He's still going to get stronger and bigger as he gets older." Many of the qualities Yelich displays is what Redmond saw first hand from his former teammate, Minnesota's Joe Mauer, a previous batting champ. (Joe Frisaro - MLB.com - March 19, 2015)
Christian's brother Cameron was overseas serving in the U.S. Marines. He touched base with Christian any way possible. Sometimes it's in the form of a brief text message that may take days or even weeks for a response. But Cameron recently surprised his older brother by sending a short video.
"He sent me a video of me striking out the other night, so he watched the game somewhere," Yelich said. "I don't know where. He said his friend's house. He's back in the United States right now. So he can watch some games. I don't think he follows them overseas. We stay in contact as much as we can." His other younger brother, Collin, is currently a catcher in the Braves' system, on the Rookie-level Danville Braves. (Frisaro - MLB.com - 6/30/16)
December 5, 2016: Yelich committed to play for team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Nov 29, 2017: Yelich was ready to do some heavy lifting as part of an initiative to bring relief to areas devastated by natural disasters. Yelich took part in the Players Trust "Returning Home" event in Dallas to raise funds to benefit those impacted in California, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Joining Yelich were Altuve, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, and more than 50 former or current players.
"It's been a tough year for a lot of people all over the country," Yelich said on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" morning show. "It's just nice to let them know we appreciate them and haven't forgotten about them. We're going to do anything we can to help out."
A native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Yelich reminded people that his home state was impacted by wild fires. Florida, Houston, Texas, and Puerto Rico are still recovering from the wraths left by hurricanes. "Ready to get after it," Yelich said. "It's just going to be nice to give back, and show these people we haven't forgotten about them, and we still care."
As part of the "Returning Home" event, the players were scheduled to visit a Habitat for Humanity warehouse in Dallas, where they were framing two houses for victims of Houston floods. They're also going to assemble holiday gift packages for displaced families. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Nov 29, 2017)
July 2018 : Yelich was selected to play reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
November 2018 : Yelich represented MLB in the All-Star Tour in Japan.
Sept 21, 2018: Like many other sports fans, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has an opinion on who should get the nod for the National League Most Valuable Player. Unlike many other sports fans, he has a platform to let a lot of people know what he thinks. After leading the Browns to a comeback victory, he gave a shout-out to Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.
"Christian Yelich for NL MVP," he said to close his postgame press conference, and that came after he walked into the stadium wearing an autographed Yelich jersey. Mayfield and Yelich became friends in the offseason, when Mayfield trained for the NFL Combine at the same facility Yelich uses in California. Yelich and the Brewers got to Pittsburgh in time to watch Mayfield's big game unfold.
"They played a great game, so it was fun to watch," Yelich said. "We had a lot of guys in the clubhouse rooting for the Browns yesterday. Obviously it's a big victory for the Browns and the city of Cleveland. It was fun to watch."
Yelich said he got a heads-up that Mayfield was going to wear his jersey, one that Mayfield had bought and asked Yelich to autograph while they were training. But nobody expected Mayfield to have a postgame press conference after he started the game as Cleveland's backup.
"He came in one day wearing it," Yelich said. "He asked me if I would sign it for him. Obviously, I did, and he ended up wearing it to the game. You don't really think it was going to go down how it went down, so it was a really cool moment for him getting that win for the Browns and the city of Cleveland." While Yelich appreciated the gesture, he's not sure how much pull Mayfield has in the proper circles to influence the vote. Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for MVP.
"We'll see," he said. "That's up to you guys. In all honesty, we're trying to just see if we can win as many games as we can down the stretch here, these last nine. I feel like everything else just takes care of itself. Obviously, it's a cool moment and much appreciated."
In addition to being an MVP candidate, Yelich led the NL with a .319 batting average, a .569 slugging percentage and a .954 OPS, but he remains more focused on the team goals at hand.
"When our team's in it and we have so much at stake every night, it's easier to separate the two," he said. "In your head, you don't have it carry over because we're so focused on our team goals, what we have to go out and accomplish as a team, and what we're on the brink of—being able to clinch a postseason spot." (A Saunders - MLB.com - Sept 21, 2018)
Cameron Yelich, Christian's youngest brother, was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps and is expected to attend the Brewers' final 2018 regular-season series.
Cameron served a four-year commitment in the Marines, and he has not seen a Major League game in person since 2016. Since then, his oldest brother won a gold medal with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, made his first MLB All-Star team, and has become one of the preeminent hitters in the sport.
Cameron enlisted in the Marines following his high school graduation and was promoted to sergeant in 2018, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While Christian excelled for the Stars and Stripes in the 2017 Classic, Cameron trained with the Marines in Hawaii.
After Team USA won the gold medal at Dodger Stadium—not far from where the three Yelich brothers grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif.—Yelich told MLB Tonight, "What we did was nothing compared to what my brother does. He fights for our country and puts it all on the line. This was the next-best thing. This was the best thing that we could do." (Morosi - mlb.com - 9/27/2018)
October 5, 2018: Blake Rutherford, the No. 7 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, will soon begin his offseason training program after taking part in this week's four-day mini-camp at Camelback Ranch. But Rutherford's offseason workout partner, Christian Yelich, won't need a note from home to explain why he might be slightly delayed.
"Hopefully, he's not there for a while," a smiling Rutherford said. "Hopefully, he can win a championship."
Rutherford, 21, works out with Yelich, 26, at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake, Calif., in the offseason. Rutherford's brother, Cole, and Yelich's brother, Collin, played together on a travel team when they were 10 years old, and the two families were friendly, but Rutherford didn't get to know Yelich well at that point. It wasn't until when Rutherford started working out at Proactive during his high school years that Yelich sort of took him under his wing. Each offseason, they grew closer and closer as they worked together, and they were able to bounce ideas off each other.
Yelich has transformed into the odds-on frontrunner for the 2018 NL MVP. Rutherford, meanwhile, is coming off a .293 effort with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, featuring seven home runs, 78 RBIs, 41 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases. The seven homers represent Rutherford's career high in a single season as he continues to follow Yelich's lead in becoming a solid hitter first, knowing the power will arrive.
"He's always been known as a line-drive hitter, gap to gap. Hits the ball hard," Rutherford said of Yelich. "He said it's always easier to be a good hitter and be able to hit the ball hard to both fields.
"As I get stronger and I learn my swing and approach better, those line drives will take off and become homers. He tells me to work on being a gap-to-gap hitter and being an all-around hitter, and then let the power come when it comes."
Power came this season for Yelich, who previously topped out at 21 homers in 2016 with the Marlins, although he did amass 134 doubles in his four years in Miami. But in 2018, Yelich launched 36 homers to go with his 110 RBIs and league-leading .326 average, .598 slugging percentage and 1.000 OPS. This near-Triple Crown performance did not surprise Rutherford.
"He has a phenomenal swing," Rutherford said. "He's a great player. It's exciting for me to be able to turn on the TV and watch him get the respect he's been deserving for so long. I'm blessed to be able to work with him and see how he goes about his work on a day-to-day basis in the offseason. He brings a lot of fun and thrill to the game."
The two keep up with each other in-season, with Yelich checking in on Rutherford and being the first to reach out with words of encouragement if he falls into a slump. Rutherford kind of models himself after Yelich, and the White Sox hope he has the same high-end development as the fellow Californian.
"I always watch him closely, because I feel like we are kind of similar in build," Rutherford said. "As the offseason comes, I'll get to talk to him more about what he's doing at the plate and pick the little stuff up. It's something I take notice of, when someone is having that good of a year, and I'm able to talk to him on a regular basis just about what's changed and how he is feeling." (Scott Merkin - MLB.com)
October 24, 2018: Yelich took home most valuable player and top newcomer honors when the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced its 2018 Brewers award winners. Yelich became the first Brewers player to win a batting title, leading the National League with a .326 average, a .598 slugging percentage and a 1.000 OPS to go with 36 home runs, 110 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in his debut season in Milwaukee. He was an NL All-Star for the first time.
Nov 7, 2018: The shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that claimed the lives of at least 12 people hit home for Brewers star Christian Yelich, who grew up in that Los Angeles suburb and attended high school less than five miles away.
Yelich shared his condolences via Twitter, including for Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year department veteran who was the first law enforcement officer to enter the Borderline Bar and Grill. Helus exchanged fire with the gunman and was struck several times, and died later in the hospital.
"Heartbreaking whenever tragedies like this occur and especially when they are in your own hometown," Yelich tweeted. "Thousand Oaks is a tremendous community and will support those who need it the most at this time. Prayers are with the Victims and their families, including SGT Ron Helus of VCPD."
Yelich now lives in Malibu, Calif., but he attended Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks until 2010, when the Marlins drafted him 23rd overall. Miami traded him to Milwaukee in January. (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Nov 8, 2018)
In 2018, Yelich was a near-unanimous choice for the National League MVP Award, getting 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America to win in a landslide over runner-up Javier Baez of the Cubs and third-place finisher Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. "It's an incredible feeling," Yelich said. "Kind of mind-boggling."
Jan 9, 2019: What started as a series of text messages has grown into a star-studded event overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Jan 9, 2019 when National League MVP Award winner Christian Yelich and some famous friends gathered for a good cause.
Yelich is one of the organizers of the California Strong Celebrity Softball Game at Pepperdine University to raise funds for Californians impacted by dual tragedies in the fall -- the Oct. 7 shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., followed by wildfires, including the Woolsey Fire, which burned swaths of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
The fire displaced Yelich, his 2018 Brewers teammates Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas, and Mike Attanasio, the son of the team's owner. In the aftermath, the quartet started a text chain to share what little information was available about their homes. It quickly morphed into a brainstorming session about raising funds to help others rebuild.
"We were talking about, 'Hey, we need to do something to help. We need to give back,'" Yelich said. "We didn't know exactly what that was going to be or how we were going to do it." The result was their "California Strong" campaign in conjunction with the YMCA of Southeast Ventura County. The men started a fundraising campaign, which had netted nearly $450,000 in donations as of this week. They sold T-shirts and other memorabilia over the holidays to raise more funds, and they organized a charity auction.
They gathered with other sports and entertainment celebrities for a softball game at Pepperdine, where Braun and Moustakas have worked out in the winter. Other Major League players slated to appear include Justin Turner and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, Eric Hosmer of the Padres, Tyler Skaggs of the Angels and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals. Two NFL quarterbacks will be there: Yelich's good friend, Baker Mayfield of the Browns, and L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who will be fresh off his team's Saturday night playoff game against the Cowboys. Actor Jamie Foxx is also participating in the event. (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Jan 9, 2019)
Jan 27, 2019: The offseason is supposed to be for rest, but Christian Yelich has had little of that. Yet he was on the move again. National League Valuable Player Award in tow, Yelich was the star of "Brewers On Deck," the club's annual Fan Fest, which sold out Milwaukee's downtown convention center for the first time. He made those rounds after jetting in from the Baseball Writers' Association of America's New York chapter dinner, which followed a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, for an event to mark American Family Insurance's stadium naming rights agreement, which came after he filmed a Pepsi commercial, which came after he helped host a charity softball game as part of an effort that has raised in excess of $1.5 million so far for California wildfire relief.
After he flies home to California, there are no more trips and no major events before Brewers position players formally report to Spring Training. That's when Yelich will begin a defense of his breakthrough 2018 season, in which he flirted with the Triple Crown, became the first Brewers player ever to win a league batting title, and won NL MVP Award honors, the NL Hank Aaron Award as the league's top offensive player, and an NL Silver Slugger Award.
Yelich's team faces a similar task. The Brewers set a franchise record by winning 102 games, including an NL Central tiebreaker against the Cubs, an NL Division Series sweep of the Rockies and three more victories in the NL Championship Series before falling to the Dodgers, one game shy of the World Series. "We got so close; one game away from going to the World Series," said outfielder Lorenzo Cain. "I tell people all the time, it's the same feeling I had in KC, when we got to the World Series and lost in Game 7."
Of Yelich, Cain said, "I got an up close and personal view of him and the guy was unbelievable all season long. The way he played, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to win [the NL MVP Award]. He's a big part of this team, a guy who drives this team. We don't expect anything less next year. It's going to be tough, but he's capable of getting it done." The Brewers are cognizant of their MVP's busy offseason, and may take steps in Spring Training to build in as much rest as possible, president of baseball operations David Stearns suggested.
But Yelich will have a say. Stearns has a hunch that even in Spring Training, he will want to play. "I've talked to him about it a little bit," said Stearns. "I think he understands this has been a little bit of a different offseason. I think he's also committed to exhale for the next week and a half or so. Then, we'll make sure we take care of him in camp. I think his body is ready; physically he feels great. If we need to give him some mental breaks, we'll certainly do that."
Said manager Craig Counsell: "Christian and I actually had a conversation about it last night. It was a good conversation. It's what you do now. You get locked in, it's a different season, different things are going to get you locked in. So that's the challenge of being a professional athlete. What's next is always the question that you're answering. "Christian has a huge challenge in front of him. I think he's looking forward to that. He wants to get better and he feels like he can get better. That's what's on his plate and that's what you want on his plate."
When it was suggested that Yelich is now a superstar in Milwaukee, Counsell exclaimed, "He's a superstar in the world. We had people chasing our car down last night down the streets in New York. It's different. He won the MVP. That makes life different."
Yelich flew with owner Mark Attanasio from Los Angeles to New York, where they were met by Counsell and Stearns for the BBWAA event. Then they all traveled on to Milwaukee for On Deck. In his speech in New York, Yelich referenced a similar trip almost exactly one year earlier, from Southern California to Phoenix to pick up Bob Uecker and Robin Yount before traveling to On Deck. That was two days or so after he was traded to the Brewers from the Marlins, and Yelich's head was still swimming.
"It has been a wild ride. A crazy 12 months," Yelich said. "If you told me everything that was going to happen in those next 12 months, I definitely wouldn't have believed you. It makes you grateful for all the experiences along the way."
At some point soon, the focus will shift to experiences ahead. "We were close last season", Yelich said. "People have probably had some time to sit back and reflect on the season and those feelings. You want those feelings again. You want the energy in the stadium like we felt down the stretch and in the playoffs. You want to get back there and get over that hurdle, get into the World Series and hopefully bring one here to Milwaukee.
"I think we'll be talking about that more as Spring Training gets underway and you start to define your team goals a little bit and the approach you want to take into the season. I think that hunger and that drive should be there for everyone. It's not a great feeling to be sitting there after a Game 7 loss, having been so close. I think it's going to drive us as a team." (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Jan 27, 2019)
March 5, 2019: Playing catch is fun. It's fun to do with your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, dog or just a plain old brick wall. But do you know who's best to play catch with? The, um, reigning National League MVP.
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly love the guy any more than you already do, @ChristianYelich has to go and do something like this. Yes, Christian took some time out before his Spring Training game against the Rockies to toss the ball around with a young fan. Not an all-that-unusual occurrence coming from a league MVP. Let's hope this gets him some early votes for his 2019 campaign. (Cut4 - March 5, 2019)
March 4, 2019: If you’re anything like us, you probably missed the all new episode of CBS’ "Magnum P.I."
If you missed it, you that you missed seeing Christian Yelich on TV. Yes, the Brewers outfielder made a short cameo in the March 4 episode when he paid a visit to the 2018 Little League World Champs.
Over the course of his approximately two-minute appearance, Yelich congratulates the young ballplayers, flirts with “Auntie” Julie Higgins, signs some autographs, and socks a pitch thrown by the dude from Happy Endings for a no-doubt dinger. (Tyler Maas - Milwaukee Record)
March 9, 2019: Never underestimate the power of social media to bring players and fans together, in a positive way. When Brewers fan Seth Jones—@sjonesiegolfman on Twitter—tweeted a video of his young sons admiring a framed picture of star outfielder Christian Yelich, he probably didn't think Yelich would actually see it, much less respond to it.
"Hey @ChristianYelich what do you say?! These kids are excited to see you play on Saturday! @Brewers," Jones tweeted. And Yelich responded. "See you Saturday! Let's make it happen," Yelich tweeted back.
The group—Seth, his wife, Kyrsten, sons Jamison (age 4) and Lukas (2), and their buddy, Ryder Carmichael (4)— met at Tempe Diablo Stadium prior to the Brewers' game with the Angels.
The conversation was lively. "Christian Yelich," Jamison said. "That's right," Yelich responded. "Your number is on the back of me," Jamison said, turning around to show Yelich the No. 22 on the back of his Brewers T-shirt. "I've got the same one," Yelich said, turning around and showing the back of his jersey. Yelich signed the picture for the kids, much to the delight of everyone involved. "Thanks @ChristianYelich and @Brewers for making dreams come true!" Seth Jones tweeted (A Footer - MLB.com - March 9, 2019)
FRIENDS WITH BAKER MAYFIELD
March 15, 2019: Yelich got a heads up on Sept. 19, 2018 that his buddy Baker Mayfield had something in mind for the following day. Yelich knew that Mayfield, then the high-profile backup quarterback of the long-suffering Cleveland Browns, had a game the next night against the New York Jets, but nothing else. “Wait and see,” Mayfield told Yelich.
So Yelich waited. The Brewers arrived in Pittsburgh that night in time to watch Thursday Night Football, and Yelich, who was in the midst of the late-season surge that made him the frontrunner for the National League MVP Award, saw Mayfield arrive at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium wearing a Brewers No. 22 jersey. Then Yelich watched as Browns starter Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury, putting Mayfield into the game. Mayfield led the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit for their first victory in nearly two years. At the end of a triumphant postgame press conference, Mayfield leaned into the microphone and said, “Christian Yelich for NL MVP.”
“Everything that followed afterwards just added to the special run that we had,” said Yelich, who did win the NL MVP Award and led the Brewers to a NL Central crown and within one game of the World Series. “We had everything going for us down the stretch.”
Mayfield was in a Brewers jersey again. This time, it was his own No. 6 for a two-day stint in Milwaukee’s Spring Training camp.
“I grew up dreaming of playing baseball, so it’s pretty crazy becoming friends with Christian Yelich,” Mayfield said. “It’s pretty fun to be here, riding the coattails of an MVP.”
“It started off as a joke,” Yelich said. The joke became reality after Yelich ran the idea of Mayfield taking part in camp by his friend Mike Attanasio, the son of the Brewers’ owner. Mark Attanasio, GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell all approved, and Mayfield reported to camp with a locker waiting for him.
“Just trying to get a contract, man,” Mayfield joked. What position? “Probably riding the bench, but we’ll see,” he said.
Mayfield and Yelich became friends a little more than a year ago after meeting at Proactive Sports Performance, a gym in Westlake Village, Calif., near Yelich’s home. Mayfield was prepping for the NFL Combine and the 2018 NFL Draft, when he would go to Cleveland with the first overall pick. Yelich was getting ready for his fifth full season in the Major Leagues, which took a turn when he was traded from the Marlins to the Brewers in late January.
“It was one of those mutual-respect things. He’s just so nice, such a down-to-earth guy,” Mayfield said. “Having real conversations. There’s nothing phony about him. What you see is what you get. It’s a lot of fun.”
For both, 2018 was a dream year. Mayfield led the Browns to a respectable 7-8-1 record after they were 0-16 the year before. Yelich led the Brewers to their fourth division title in 50 seasons as a franchise, and became the team’s fifth league MVP. When Yelich won that award live on MLB Network, Mayfield was there. The Browns happened to be on their bye week.
When they talked, did they ever wonder whether this was real life? “Along the lines of that—‘Is this really happening? Who allowed us to be professionals in sports?’” Mayfield said. “You dream of playing sports for a long time and then when you’re actually here, you don’t even realize it until you take a step back and look at it. A lot of that, just realizing how fortunate and blessed we were.”
Said Yelich: “It’s definitely a different life. It’s under the microscope sometimes. The thing is, at the end of the day, everyone is still the same person they were when they were a kid growing up. You don’t ever lose sight of that.”
Mayfield grew up in Austin, Texas, and was actually a pretty good third baseman who says he had some offers to play baseball. Baseball was “his first love,” he said, but football was his calling, so he went to Texas Tech and then to Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff semifinals twice in three years, and won the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
When he landed with the Browns, Mayfield had an immediate fan in the Brewers' clubhouse in third baseman Travis Shaw, an Ohio native who has been known to wear Mayfield’s jersey to the ballpark on football Sundays. Shaw previewed Mayfield’s appearance in Brewers camp on social media.
“There's some optimism in Cleveland, finally,” he said. “After a lot of years, finally some optimism.”
Before shagging fly balls and throwing some footballs during the Brewers’ morning practice, Mayfield joined the daily team meeting. Counsell figures Mayfield could have stood in front of the room and talked all day, if they let him.
“What you’re immediately drawn to is, he was part of the team from the second he was in the room,” Counsell said. “He’s a leader, there’s no question about it. You get that vibe from him right away, and you can see why guys follow him and why he’s the quarterback. “The dude has it. No question.” (A McCalvy - MLB.com - March 2019)
May 12, 2019 (Mothers Day): “She played a big part in keeping [his career] going,” said Christian Yelich. “If she didn’t, who knows where I would be right now. Definitely not all this stuff.
“It’s a good lesson about what can happen if you stick with something. It doesn’t all come easy. I’m thankful that she made me finish out my commitment, basically. That’s the biggest message: Don’t quit. I think about it sometimes, and I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t get in that car.”
He told the full story in his essay, about the time he nearly gave up baseball as a 7-year-old after getting hit by pitches three or four games in a row. He decided right there at first base that he was done with baseball, and when it came time to leave home for the next game, Alecia Yelich found her son in his room, arms folded, his uniform sitting on his dresser.
She convinced him to play.
“That’s a true story,” Yelich said. “I was pretty much over the whole baseball thing at that point. I was going to go play football or basketball. I was out. After that, everything changed for some reason, and here we are, talking to you guys.” (MLB.com)
June 27, 2019: Outfield NL- Christian Yelich, Brewers (1st ASG start): Yelich has been on one of the hottest stretches in recent memory—a run that began following last year's All-Star Game, when he was a first-time All-Star as a reserve for the NL and homered off Charlie Morton in the eighth inning.
Since the second half of last season, Yelich has homered 54 times in 139 games, and his 29 homers this year have him on pace to chase 60. Yelich is the Major League leader in home runs, slugging percentage (.719) and total bases (200), and to top it all off, he's just off the NL lead in steals (17). His 930,577 total votes led all NL finalists. June 28, 2019: Yelich not only earned a chance to start the 2019 All-Star Game, he was the NL’s overall leader in votes.
“You never expect to lead the entire National League in votes, but it's really cool and I’m definitely excited to be a part of the All-Star Game,” Yelich said. “I'm definitely looking forward to getting to Cleveland and having some fun.”
Christian got into business in downtown Milwaukee, investing along with teammate Ryan Braun in a Wisconsin Ave. real estate venture. Both players are investors in The Avenue, a project that includes a food hall, apartments, and office and retail space in the former Shops of Grand Avenue.
“We started talking about it about two months ago,” Yelich said. “The more I become involved with things like this, it becomes more intriguing. You want it to do well. You want your city to do well. This was the type of thing that, once we started talking about it, it's something we became passionate about and wanted to see all the way through.” (McCalvy - mlb.com - 8/13/19)
Why did Christian Yelich agree to bare all for ESPN The Magazine’s annual The Body Issue? For the same reason he said yes to a slew of other opportunities after winning last year’s National League MVP Award. Why not? It gives fans a chance to see a different side of him.
“Yeah, basically everything,” Yelich said with a grin.
The offer was first presented in passing during the offseason, Yelich said, but he forgot about it until it came back around once the season began. After mulling the offer for a few days and consulting friends and a teammate or two, he said yes, which is how the Brewers’ best player found himself standing in the buff for four hours in what he described as an abandoned warehouse in downtown Milwaukee on July 25, an off-day for the team. There were about 20 ESPN staffers on hand, said Yelich, who posed for a variety of photographs. There was even a slip and slide involved, he said.
“It was probably my favorite shoot I’ve ever done,” Yelich said. “I had that good of a time.”
What convinced him to say yes?
“I’m just at a position in my life that I felt it was something I wanted to do,” Yelich said. “I was not really worried about the whole being naked thing. I was kind of ‘whatever’ about that -- surprisingly. I didn’t know how I was going to be about that, if I was going to be nervous or not. I was super comfortable with it and had a great time.“I don’t get to choose which [photographs] they use. It was about a four-hour shoot, so there are a lot of pictures, a lot of things that we ended up doing. I’ll probably see them just before you guys do.”
Prince Fielder graced the cover of The Body Issue in 2014, but he’d departed the Brewers by then. Yelich is the first current Brewers player to take part. The gallery will appear online Sept. 4 and the issue hits newsstands Sept. 6.
“You go into it knowing that hey, a lot of people are going to see these pictures,” Yelich said. “You can’t really be shy. You’ve got to be confident in yourself and the whole process. It’s not necessarily something I think I would have done a few years ago. I feel like I’ve come a long way as a person in the last few years.
"It’s something that I’m actually really, really glad I did now that it’s done with and looking back on it. It’s a great opportunity.“And I’m sure the guys in here are going to have a great time with it. It’s going to be all over this place, and I’m going to get a pretty hard time for it. I regret nothing.” ( Adam McCalvy-MLB.com-Aug. 26, 2019)
2019: Yelich put himself on the Cooperstown map by producing 19 WAR through age 25 in Miami. He has put himself on the fast track by adding another 14 WAR in two seasons in Milwaukee that might yield back-to-back NL MVP Awards.
Yelich set out in 2019 to show that his Brewers debut was anything but a fluke, and he has done just that, establishing this as his new normal. With more WAR through age 27 than Vladimir Guerrero, Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield, to name only a few, Yelich is now a superstar on a skyrocketing trajectory.
Oct. 14, 2019: Yelich was named the Brewers MVP for the second straight year by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Oct. 2019: Yelich wins the NL Hank Aaron Award. There’s some history here, with Trout and Yelich becoming the 10th and 11th players to win multiple Hank Aaron Awards since the honor’s inception in 1999. They joined Alex Rodriguez (four times), Barry Bonds (three times), Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, José Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz and Giancarlo Stanton.
Trout won his first in 2014, while Yelich did so last season; both wound up being the MVPs of their leagues in those seasons.Unlike the MVP Award, which takes a player’s total contribution and value into account, the Hank Aaron Award -- established to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record -- is solely about offensive contributions.
Fans across the country voted on this year’s award, as did a panel of Hall of Famers that Aaron handpicked for the occasion. That group included Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.
Nov 14, 2019: Yelich finishes second for the 2019 NL MVP Award. Bellinger led the way with 19 first-place votes to Yelich’s 10 and Rendon’s one, denying Yelich a second straight season winning the honor.
“It was well-deserved [for Bellinger],” Yelich said a few minutes after the result was announced on MLB Network. “He had a great season, definitely an MVP-caliber one. I’m happy for him. … I figured that once I got hurt, that was a wrap on that. But I guess you never really know until the end.”
Nov 20, 2019: Add another entry to Christian Yelich’s superstar resume: video game cover athlete. Yelich was featured on the cover of the "R.B.I. Baseball 2020" video game.
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Brewers Yelich was named to the first team outfield.
Jan 9, 2020: Christian Yelich didn't hit any home runs on January 12 in the second annual California Strong Celebrity Softball game at Pepperdine University. He managed one of the teams instead.
“I didn’t think that it was smart for my first baseball action to be in a celebrity softball game,” said Yelich, whose bid for a second straight National League MVP Award was cut short when he fractured his right kneecap last September. “I think I should probably wait until Spring Training.”
. For now, another game was on his mind. This marks the second straight year that Yelich is joining with Brewers teammate Ryan Braun, new Reds infielder Mike Moustakas and Mike Attanasio, the son of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, to collect funds for their California Strong initiative, which has already raised more than $2.3 million for those in need in their home state.
The idea started amid a text-message chain during the fall of 2018, after Southern California suffered the dual tragedies of a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks followed by wildfires, including the Woolsey Fire, which burned swaths of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The fundraiser has grown into something big and impactful thanks to the dogged work of Attanasio and the players, and the involvement of corporate sponsors like RECOVƎR 180°, which announced a partnership with Yelich on Friday and is the official hydration sponsor of Sunday’s softball event.
Like last year, it's a star-studded affair. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is back, having donated $1,000 for every touchdown he threw this season. So is Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, a friendly rival of Yelich’s who edged Yelich for the 2019 NL MVP Award. Other MLB players scheduled to participate include Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, Braves pitcher Max Fried and Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.
Actors Jamie Foxx, Patrick Dempsey, Rob Lowe, Anthony Anderson and Eli Roth, and actresses Tiffany Haddish and Kaitlin Olson were also in the lineup. There’s even an Academy Award winner in Mira Sorvino.
“Last year we did the best we could on short notice,” Yelich said. “We tried to throw it all together in a short amount of time. I think the event was amazing. It was awesome to see the support we got, not only from the local community, but nationwide. “This year, we have had a little bit more time to plan. We’ve had a full year. I think that’s what you’ve seen with the corporate sponsorships and the other people who have come on board. We’re really excited for Sunday.”
Was the idea from the start for this to be an annual affair?
“No. We didn’t know what we were getting into last year,” Yelich said with a laugh. “We just wanted to raise some money and help some people out. We didn’t know what we wanted to do [beyond that]. We partnered with the YMCA and figured softball was familiar to us. That’s how the softball game came together. It became way bigger than any of us could have envisioned. We’re all thankful for that. We have been able to help a lot of people along the way.
“Sometimes it’s a little mind-blowing if you think about it, especially when you realize that the 4-5 of us who started it, started it on a group text. You see where it is today in such a short amount of time. I think that California Strong is here to stay.”(A McCalvy - MLB.com - Jan 9, 2020)
Feb 14, 2020: Christian Yelich has to report to Spring Training in Arizona, but he had a stop to make first. The Milwaukee Bucks tweeted a photo late Friday night of Yelich and Bucks guard Pat Connaughton, tagged in Chicago, along with three words: "Up to something ..." They're standing arm-in-arm, with a baseball in Connaughton's free right hand and a basketball in Yelich's left hand. The Brewers soon retweeted it without comment.
The Bucks also tweeted a self-shot video of Connaughton in the practice gym. "Out here in Chicago, getting the training in, getting ready the night before," Connaughton says on the court. Then he turns to reveal two people talking in the background: "Special guest showed up, baby. Special guest showed up."
It all started with a tweet from Connaughton, who is slated to take part in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest as part of the league's All-Star festivities. The tweet features a photo with a “Let Pat Dunk” T-shirt, a baseball, a basketball and a handwritten note that reads, "Christian, I have a great idea! Meet me in Chicago this weekend. PC."
“What do you say??” Connaughton asked Yelich in a tweet that was retweeted by Yelich himself.
Connaughton understands as well as anyone that Yelich is busy these days. A former pitcher, Connaughton played baseball and basketball at Notre Dame before the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round in 2014, and he appeared in six games at Class A Short Season Aberdeen that season with a 2.45 ERA before turning his focus to basketball.
Connaughton played three seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers before signing with the Bucks in August 2018, when Yelich was in the midst of winning the National League MVP Award. Yelich has attended a handful of Bucks games since then, including a memorable sideline beer chug last May during the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
Yelich never made a public commitment to join Connaughton, but the photo teases the potential for a pairing. In an interview tweeted out by the Bucks earlier in the week, Connaughton said he's got some tricks planned for the contest and he hoped Yelich would be able to stop by to help out.
“We’ll see,” Connaughton said. “Hopefully he responds to it. Hopefully he can make his way there. I know Milwaukee has its Spring Training coming up and I don’t want to interfere with his schedule. But last year, year and a half in Milwaukee, I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, and obviously I have a little more of an interest in baseball than most. We’ll see if we can’t get him there and have some fun with it and do a couple of other things that I’ve got up my sleeve.”
Most important of all, the schedule works perfectly. With Brewers position players reporting to camp, Yelich has a full day to get to Phoenix on time. (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Feb 14, 2020)
Feb 27, 2020: Gun violence used to feel like a distant problem to Christian Yelich. Then it hit close to home in November 2018, when a gunman killed 12 patrons at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., only a few miles from where Yelich grew up. Fifteen months later, tragedy has struck Yelich’s second home, as well. When Yelich and the Brewers gathered as a group with home-grown manager Craig Counsell for their daily team meeting, they talked about the mass shooting at the Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee, which neighbors Miller Park. A gunman killed five people before taking his own life.
“It’s a sad, tragic event,” Yelich said. “A lot of people’s lives were affected. Just from being there the last couple of years, you realize what a tight-knit community it is, and it’s the last thing you would expect. I guess any time these things happen, you don’t really expect it, especially in a place like Milwaukee.”
Yelich said news of the event trickled into the clubhouse via social media as details emerged, and he was already having conversations with teammates about what players could do to respond. In the wake of the dual tragedies of the Thousand Oaks shooting and wildfires in Southern California in the fall of 2018, Yelich and Ryan Braun helped found California Strong, which has raised and distributed funds to impacted families.
Yelich Tweeted his condolences along with an image of Milwaukee’s unofficial civic flag and the phrase, “Milwaukee Strong.” Very heartbreaking to hear about the tragedy in Milwaukee today. My thoughts are with the victims, their families and everyone at MolsonCoors. #MilwaukeeStrong
“The Borderline [bar] one happened pretty close to where I grew up. two offseasons ago, and you realize the trickle-down effect of it,” Yelich said. “Yeah, it’s going to get headlines in the next week or so, and then something else happens and everyone will move on. But the people who were affected, they have to deal with that for the rest of their life, you know? From getting to know a couple of the families that were affected by the Borderline shooting, you realize how long that affects somebody. It’s a lifetime thing, right? Their lives were changed forever yesterday.
“That’s what’s so sad about it. Somebody went to work trying to make a living, and they end up dying at work. That’s the saddest part about it. They didn’t deserve that. They were just trying to make a living, just like we are here.” (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Feb 27, 2020)
March 6, 2020: It’s official. Christian Yelich is a Milwaukee Brewer for life. The Brewers formally announced Yelich's new nine-year contract.
"I'm really glad that I'm able to spend the foreseeable future here -- the rest of my career as a Milwaukee Brewer," Yelich said at the news conference. "I've said many times that I've only been here two years, but it feels like it's been a lot longer. Ever since I came here, it just felt like a natural fit."
During the coronavirus pandemic, in an effort to stay in some semblance of baseball shape, Christian was returning to his roots. He and one of his kid brothers passed the time by playing catch in the street. “It takes you back to being 10 years old,” Yelich said. “We used to do that when we were little kids. That’s probably the last time we did something like that.”
Yelich went home to Los Angeles after baseball was suspended. He has remained there since, following guidance from local authorities to stay inside with limited exceptions -- including having a catch. One of Yelich’s two younger brothers, Collin, was a Minor League catcher for the Braves and Marlins. The other, Cameron, served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Don’t the neighbors stop and stare? "That's happened a few times," Yelich said. "There's a lot of people that are going for walks, or they'll drive by. It's always a good laugh. A little awkward at times. But it's kind of funny."
“Just trying to stay busy while staying at home, trying to do our part right now and make sure we stay inside, keep away from [others] and try to slow this thing down,” he said. “Trying to do some at-home workouts. Watch some TV shows. Really, just do the best you can to occupy yourself throughout the day.” (McCalvy - mlb.com - 4/2/2020)
April 11, 2020: “Never forget to realize how lucky you are!”
That was at the heart of a letter from Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich to the senior baseball players at Westlake High School in metro Los Angeles, Yelich’s alma mater. The school’s second-year coach, Wally Barnett, received the letter and shared it via Twitter.
Yelich’s message is relevant for everyone, particularly the high school and college seniors everywhere whose graduation plans were dashed by the coronavirus response. The message is especially poignant for the students at Westlake, who have been touched by three crises in less than two years: a mass shooting in 2018 at a bar in neighboring Thousand Oaks, less than five miles away; the California wildfires that same fall; and now a global pandemic.
Here is Yelich’s letter in full:
You should all be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, not in baseball, but in life. You’ve experienced things that most people go an entire lifetime without seeing, and each time coming out on the other side and stronger! I’m sure this probably isn’t how you envisioned your senior year coming to a close, but this is just a small chapter of your life that’s just beginning!
There’s a cliché in sports that goes, “Play Every Game As if it’s Your Last.” For some of us that comes at 12, others it’s 18, 20, 22, and for the lucky ones much later. In the end it unfortunately happens to us all. Rarely is it when we want it to be, and most times it seems unfair.
Some of you have played your last game and that’s fine!! It’s fine because you’re going to go on to do great things in this world, things that have way bigger impact than anything that can be done on a baseball field!
Others get to go on and play at the next level and that’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Continue to play the game with joy and for all the reasons you started in the first place. Most importantly, play for all your teammates that no longer get to do so, and never forget to realize how lucky you are!
No matter where this next chapter takes you just know that place you call home is proud of you! You’re the future of this world. Best of luck in this next phase of life. You’re prepared for anything that comes your way. Congratulations class of 2020!
Christian Yelich – Westlake Class of 2010 (A McCalvy - MLB.com - April 11, 2020)
May 10, 2020: ESPN producer Patrick Truby asked on Twitter: Who is the “coolest” person in baseball? That’s the sort of question during these sad days without live Major League Baseball that gets our engines motoring over here. That’ll continue to fill the days.
So, today, we take a look at the Brewers “coolest” player. That is, of course, a vague concept, “cooler,” so we’ll just give you our definition of it: When an 8-year-old is pretending to be his favorite player on his favorite team out on the diamond, which player is he pretending to be? That’s how we’ll define it. And here are our picks.
Brewers: Christian Yelich, OF -- There’s no reason to complicate this. Though how cool you think Yelich is may depend on how cool you think Pete Davidson is. (Will Leitch)
June 2010: The Marlins chose Yelich in the first round, the 23rd player overall, out of Westlake High School in Westlake Village, California. He signed on the August 16 deadline with scout Tim McDonnell for a bonus of $1.7 million.
March 18, 2015: The Marlins and Yelich agreed on a seven-year, $49.5 million contract. The deal also includes a club option for an eighth year.
January 25, 2018: The Brewers sent OF Lewis Brinson, SS Isan Diaz, OF Monte Harrison, and RHP Jordan Yamamoto to the Marlins; acquiring Yelich.
March 6, 2020: The Brewers reached agreement with 28-year-old superstar outfielder Christian Yelich on a club-record contract extension. It adds seven years and $190 million to the two guaranteed years left on Yelich’s current contract, for a grand total of nine years and $215 million from 2020-28. The agreement would also include a mutual option for 2029.
It has a full no-trade clause that begins immediately and does not include any opt-outs, which have become common in recent years in the mega-contracts other elite players have inked. The contract also has $28 million in deferrals that will help Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns fill out the roster around Yelich when his base salary jumps to $26 million per season from 2022-28.
|DOB:||12/5/1991||Agent:||Paragon Sports Int./Joe Longo|
|Birth City:||Thousand Oaks, CA|
|Draft:||Marlins #1 - 2010 - Out of high school (CA)|
Yelich has a quick, smooth, pure lefthanded swing and strong hands that provide some home run power and a lot of doubles to the gaps. He hits line drives from that level stroke. Scouts rate him with a 65 or 70 in hitting for average, and a 60 for his power, on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has the sweet swing of a future batting champ. His other tools got a 60 for his speed, a 55 for his defense and 50 for his arm. He projects as a .290 hitter with 20-25 home runs per season when he matures as a hitter.
Christian has a patient, advanced approach at the plate. He reads pitches well. And has strong, quick hands to line drives to all parts of the ballpark. And he makes a concerted effort to stay in the middle of the diamond with his hits.
He hits the ball to all parts of the park that should allow him to hit for a solid batting average. He greatest tool is hitting for power to all fields. He is a pure hitter, but also he’s hit some home runs to the big part of the park. The key is he doesn’t rely on one aspect of his game.
- Some scouts have compared Yelich's swing mechanics to those of Will Clark. He’s a natural hitter who’s been lauded for his grinder mentality. A lefthanded hitter, he combines the bat speed to generate average raw power with a feel for the strike zone that belies his age.
Everything you look for in a hitter, he does. And he can repeat them. He’s in a good position to hit all the time. Supreme balance and body control. He’s just a very polished offensive player.
Christian has an advanced approach at the plate. He sees the ball very well showing impressive pitch recognition and has a very good knowledge of the strike zone. He is a rhythm hitter, demonstrating an understanding of which pitches to attack and which to let go. He has quick hands, covers the zone well with his long arms and lines balls to all fields.
He seldom swings and misses. Except vs. lefthanded pitchers. He has trouble hitting lefties, but hammers righthanders for both power and average.
Yelich has learned to condense his strike zone and hone in on pitches he can drive. Yelich has power to center field as well as to his pull side, and while he doesn't project as an elite slugger, he should be a threat for 25 homers annually once he fills out his lanky frame and learns to create more leverage in his swing.
"His hands really work, though at times he can get too handsy,” said one scout 2013. “He’s going to have to use his lower half more to completely tap into that power.”
With his speed, Christian can bunt for a base hit.
"You think about how consistent he's been over the last four or five months," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's had a great year. He's led off the entire year. Especially since the All-Star Break, you've seen this guy come into his own.
"The pulling of the ball and the power are all things that will continue to come as he gets more and more confident, and more and more comfortable at the plate. But it's definitely in there."
"Really, this is your first time through and you're seeing a lot of guys for the first time," Yelich said. "Before, you don't really know what they do. What kind of stuff they have, or how they're going to come after you. The more you get to face them, the more you form an approach against them and kind of understand how you're going to try to attack them."(Frisaro – mlb.com – 9/6/2014)
Christian says, "I do everything righthanded: throw kick, write, eat . . but for some reason I always hit lefty. Nobody taught me that way or forced it on me, I just always picked up a bat lefty, it was more comfortable for me, and it's just worked out."
Could a batting title be on the horizon for Christian? "That could be a possibility," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He definitely has the swing, the pitch selection, and makes the contact to be able to hit for a high average. I think his power is something that will get better and improve. This guy is still lean. He's still going to get stronger and bigger as he gets older."
"He reminds me a lot of Joe Mauer in the way he takes pitches, and really is able to understand his zone remarkably well for such a young kid," Redmond said. "He never seems to be out on his front foot. He may strike out a few times, but he rarely looks bad on a strikeout. He may just get beat. "But yes, he has the swing and approach to hit for a high average." (Frisaro - mlb.com - 3/19/2015)
Yelich draws his fair share of free passes, sprays the ball around the field and rarely sends it up in the air. In fact, of all qualified hitters for the three seasons, 2013-2015, Yelich has the highest ground-ball rate (61.9 percent) and lowest fly-ball rate (16.0 percent), while almost never generating infield flies (0.6 percent of the time).
As a left-handed batter with good speed and that sort of batted-ball profile, Yelich has shown the ability to maintain a high average on balls in play, with his .365 career BABIP ranking second in the Majors over that span.
In 2015, hitting the ball hard at least guarantees more hits and more power numbers, and it should generally help keep your batting line afloat. That is why it should not surprise anyone that the Marlins' king of hitting the ball hard is Yelich.
In 2016, Yelich put together a breakout power year, setting career highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (98).
Christian hits the ball on the ground far more than average. But he is improving. In 2016, he hit 56 percent of his balls on the ground—an improvement over previous years, but still a very high number.
August 29, 2018 : Yelich became the eighth Brewers player to hit for the cycle in 50 seasons as a franchise and the first since George Kottaras in 2011. Then Yelich became the fourth Brewers player to produce six hits, the first since Jean Segura in 2013.
September 18, 2018: Yelich became just the third player in baseball's modern era to hit for the cycle twice in one season.
October 1, 2018: Yelich wins batting title, falls shy of Triple Crown. Yelich didn't become a Triple Crown winner, but he is a NL Central champion. Yelich went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the Brewers' 3-1 win over the Cubs that sealed the NL Central title in Game 163.
Vying to become the 13th Triple Crown winner since 1920, Yelich fell two homers and an RBI short in his quest. The 26-year-old led the NL in hitting (.326), but he finished second to the Cubs' Javier Baez in RBIs (111-110); and second to Nolan Arenado in homers (38-36).
October 26, 2018: Yelich won MLB's most prestigious offensive prize. He won the National League 2018 Hank Aaron Award. A formal presentation took place on the field before Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium, with Aaron in attendance.
- In 2018, he won the NL MVP.
Nov. 8, 2018: Yelich won his second Silver Slugger Award.
Jan 9, 2019: Christian Yelich demonstrated how challenging it can be to hit a softball with three mighty whiffs.
Christian Yelich can hit. He won the National League MVP Award on the strength of an absurd offensive season in 2018, hitting .326/.402/.598 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs, good for a 7.6 WAR. He's very good. That much is established, and the Brewers are very happy to have him on their team.
He has a softball game coming up this weekend, as part of the California Strong fundraising initiative he started with fellow Southern California-based stars like teammate Ryan Braun, Rams quarterback Jared Goff, and others. Yelich hit the batting cages to take some hacks in preparation, and … three swings, three misses. The reigning NL MVP couldn't make contact. Softball is deceptive, isn't it? If you were the person on your intramural softball team who just couldn't figure it out at the plate, maybe you feel a bit better now.
All joking aside, Yelich went on MLB Network to talk a bit about the softball game fundraiser, which will take place at Pepperdine University. (A Garro - MLB.com - Jan 9, 2019)
March 31, 2019: Yelich matched a Major League record by homering in each of his team’s first four games.
- April 3, 2019: Christian Yelich can do it all. Last year's NL MVP Award winner has started this year where he left off. Yelich was hitting .409 with four home runs, and a penchant for clutch hits that almost defies belief.
Now, Yelich is done just swinging a bat, he's taken up designing them, too. He put his stamp on a new version of his Louisville Slugger model. The bat's a cool blue with a swirling look inside the Louisville Slugger logo. It channels the beaches from Yelich's California home of Thousands Oaks, Calif. That extends to the bat knob which features the Zuma Beach lifeguard station. Though Yelich swings a black bat in games, he's planning on using the Brewers uniform-matching model during Players' Weekend.
You can check out Yelich talking about designing the bat in the video also.
April 7, 2019: Christian began the game with career home run No. 100, a two-run shot off Kyle Hendricks in the first inning.
April 15, 2019: Yelich has career night after early BP. Yelich took extra BP because he wasn't "locked in." The result was a 3-homer, 7-RBI night.
April 22, 2019: Yelich homered eight times for the Brewers to take home National League Player of the Week honors.
May 25, 2019: Yelich reached 20 homers faster than any player in franchise history. It took him just 45 games, besting the mark set by Prince Fielder, who did so in his 58th game in 2007, the year he set the club record with 50 homers.
June 21, 2019: Yelich drove in three runs and smashed a tape-measure home run for the third straight game to tie Prince Fielder’s franchise record of 29 for long balls before the ALL-Star break.
July 1, 2019: Christian Yelich hit a two-run opposite-field homer that barely cleared the fence down the left-field line. His 30th homer of the season—on a high, 96-mph four-seam fastball from Robert Stephenson—snapped a tie with Prince Fielder for the most home runs by a Brewers hitter before the All-Star break.
“That pitch was up in his eyes,” Counsell said. “It was one of those towering fly balls that don’t usually go out. It’s a testament to how hard he hits the ball.”
“It was one of those weird ones,” Yelich said. “It wasn’t the best pitch to swing at, but that’s baseball. Sometimes, you do everything right and don’t get rewarded. Sometimes, you do everything wrong and hit a home run.”
Make that two milestones in two days for Yelich, who also logged his 1,000th hit.
“It’s cool,” Yelich said. “It’s hard to put it out of your mind. You’re constantly reminded about it by the fans and the media. It’s nice to get it out of the way.”
“He’s had a tremendous first half,” Counsell said. “I think he’ll tell you he’s been fighting himself a little bit, but he still came up with big hits tonight.”
July 9, 2019: Before starting in the All-Star Game in Cleveland, Yelich had bashed an MLB-high 31 homers and tied for fourth with 19 stolen bases over the Brewers’ first 91 games. He’s the only player ever to go 30-15 in the first half.
Yelich was laying the foundation for a power leap with help from baseball’s all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds, his hitting coach in Miami.
“I think you have to learn how to hit for power, especially in the big leagues,” Yelich said.
“You have to learn how your body works, what pitches, how it happens. You could homer right now and you might not know why you hit it. You hit it over the fence, but why did that happen? So being around (hitting coaches) Barry (Bonds) in Miami and Frank Menechino there, you learn things as a hitter and then you try to just apply them. Learn how to do it consistently, get your body in a good position to hit constantly . . . That’s’ really my thought process, and Barry helped me understand what went into that. Frank as well.”
Oct 14, 2019: Christian Yelich was named the Brewers MVP for the second straight year by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Yelich was the headliner after batting .329 with 44 home runs, 97 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 130 games ending Sept. 10, the night he fouled a pitch off his right kneecap and suffered a fracture that ended his season.
Nov 7, 2019: In winning his third Silver Slugger Award, Yelich saw his season cut short in September by a right knee injury. But that didn't preclude him from finishing with eye-popping numbers -- Yelich led the league in batting average (.329) and on-base percentage (.429), while leading the Majors with a .671 slugging percentage and a 1.100 OPS
April 24, 2020: Who has the best hit tool on the Brewers? Christian Yelich:
The Brewers have had some good hitters over the years. Paul Molitor set a franchise record with a .353 average in 1987 (the year he had a 39-game hitting streak), Cecil Cooper hit .352 while setting a franchise record with 219 hits in '80 and Ryan Braun batted .332 in 2011 to set a club record for the Miller Park era.
But they never had a league batting champion until Yelich came along and led the NL in each of the past two seasons. His famously simple approach produces prodigious clean contact; Yelich ranked in MLB's top eight percent of barrels in '18, according to Statcast. In '19, he was in the top three percent. -- Adam McCalvy
- May 8, 2020: Who provides the most wallop for the Brewers? Christian Yelich:
President of baseball operations David Stearns has shown a knack for acquiring left-handed hitters poised for a power surge at Miller Park, from Travis Shaw to Eric Thames to Yelich, who ascended to superstar status after making the move to Milwaukee in 2018. Yelich finds the discussion of launch angle oversimplified. Yes, he is hitting the ball in the air more often, but he says that’s not a conscious effort and rather an evolution of his swing and finding an ideal contact point.
The results have been stunning. In 2018, on the way to winning the National League MVP Award, Yelich hit more home runs in the second half (25) than he hit in any of his five seasons with the Marlins. His .770 slugging percentage after the ’18 All-Star break was baseball's best in 14 years, since Barry Bonds' .832 in ’04. Last year, Yelich hit 44 homers despite missing the final three weeks of the regular season, and he led the Majors with a .671 slugging percentage. -- Adam McCalvy
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Yelich's career Major League stats were: .301 batting average, 139 home runs and 1,067 hits, with 500 RBI in 3,541 at-bats.
- Christian used to play first base.
Yelich can also play the outfield. But his arm is not ideal, limiting him to left and center field. His arm is his worst tool.
His arm is not strong enough for right field. He needed to shorten his arm action and get more carry on the ball. He had a long, loopy arm action, and his exchange and release were slow. But it’s gotten better. It is now average for center field. (Spring 2013)
- He gets good reads off the bat, anticipates well, and has first-step quickness while taking good angles to the ball. And the long strides of his 6-foot-4 frame have made him a solid left fielder. He glides to the ball.
- In 2014, Yelich became the first outfielder in Marlins history to win a Rawlings Gold Glove. He was the top left fielder in the National League.
- In 2018 and 2019 for the Brewers, Yelich played all three outfield positions.
- Christian is very fast. His long legs enable him to cover ground in a hurry once he is under way. He puts some pressure on the defense.
- Yelich is a good baserunner. And he can steal bases, as he proved in 2011 by stealing 32 bases in 37 attempts in the South Atlantic League. He followed that up with 20 steals in 26 tries in 2012.
- While Christian takes pretty good leads, his running style is more straight up, instead of getting a little lower and driving towards the next base.
- He is clocked at 4.2 seconds consistently, from home plate to first base.
From 2014-2019, with the Marlins and Brewers, he stole about 20 bases a season.
- May 15, 2020: Who is the fastest on the Brewers? Christian Yelich:Statcast metrics provide a guide -- sprint speed, Bolts and home-to-first-base time -- and Yelich is the clear frontrunner (pun intended) in all of them thanks to the departure of Trent Grisham (traded to San Diego) and Cory Spangenberg (signed in Japan). Yelich’s average sprint speed was 28.7 feet per second (trailing only Grisham and Spangenberg among 2019 Brewers). He tallied a team-leading 18 Bolts -- the number of runs where the sprint speed of the runner is at least 30 ft/sec -- and his home-to-first time on "topped" or "weakly hit" balls was 4.16 seconds, trailing only Spangenberg. Factors that could threaten Yelich’s speed supremacy would be some setback with the right kneecap he fractured on a foul ball last September, though the Brewers don’t anticipate any problems, or the return of speedy Keon Broxton in a potential '20 season. Broxton, who signed a Minor League contract last winter, recorded a 29.3 sprint speed last year, and Yelich had Broxton beat by just .02 seconds on home-to-first. -- Adam McCalvy
April 1-15, 2012: Yelich went on the D.L. after being struck by a bat flung accidentally by teammate J.T. Realmuto. It hit Christian in the right elbow while in the on-deck circle during spring training.
May 31-June 19, 2012: Christian was back on the D.L. with a concussion.
- April 3-19, 2013: Yelich began the season on the D.L. with plantar fasciitis.
June 5, 2013: Christian was on the D.L. with a small abdominal wall strain. He suffered the injury while diving for a ball in the outfield on June 2.
"He thought it was a little dull pain. But as he was playing the game, he was feeling it a little bit more," Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett said.
- June 14-29, 2014: Yelich was on the D.L. with a lower back strain.
April 19, 2015: Christian was on the D.L. with a lower back strain. (It was similar to the one in 2014.)
August 10-25, 2015: Yelich was on the D.L. with a right knee contusion.
April 5-17, 2018: Yelich was on the IL with right oblique strain.
April 28, 2019: Yelich experienced lower back discomfort during the top of the fifth inning of the Crew's 5-2 loss to the Mets. And he remains day to day.
May 21, 2019: Yelich cited improvement before missing a second straight game because of back spasms. Yelich wasn’t sure what caused his flare-up before batting practice, forcing him to miss games because of a bad back for the second time this season.
July 2019: Yelich was going to participate in the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. But he was replaced by the A's Matt Chapman in the Derby due to a back issue.
Aug 7, 2019: The Brewers were hopeful Christian Yelich would come back from his off-day feeling better, but they scratched him from the lineup as his back pain persisted into their series finale with the Pirates.
“Christian, frankly, came in today just not as good as we were hoping,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Yelich has dealt with back spasms and stiffness throughout the season
September 10, 2019: Christian sustained a broken right kneecap and will miss the remainder of the season.
Sept 11, 2019: "It's tough. Anytime any member of your team gets hurt, especially an injury that puts him out for the rest of the season, it's devastating," said Mike Moustakas, who homered twice in his return to the lineup Wednesday. "For it to happen to Yeli -- obviously, our best player and one of the best players in baseball -- it's devastating, man. There are no other words to describe it. We obviously wish nothing but the best for him.
Sept 12, 2019: Christian Yelich will not need surgery to repair his fractured right patella, the Brewers confirmed after the reigning National League MVP Award winner underwent a battery of tests in Milwaukee.
The team expects Yelich to be down eight to 10 weeks, meaning he will miss the remainder of this season but have ample time to prepare for 2020. The Brewers do not expect Yelich to experience any long-term effects from the injury.
President of baseball operations and general manager David Stearns elaborated that Yelich's leg will be immobilized for a while before strengthening and rehabilitation. He will get a second opinion, as most players do after sustaining serious injuries.
Sept 20, 2019: Ten days since an unfortunately placed foul ball fractured his right kneecap and ended his season, Christian Yelich is still swollen, but improving. The thinking as the Brewers entered their final series at home of the regular season was that Yelich would not travel with the team on its weeklong trip to Cincinnati and Colorado. He is on crutches, making travel difficult. And since the team’s athletic trainers have active players to tend to, it makes more sense for Yelich to do his rehab at Miller Park, where he has been working on an anti-gravity treadmill.
So far, so good, according to Yelich. The Brewers expect him to be running by Halloween before transitioning into a normal offseason, president of baseball operations David Stearns said.
Jan 9, 2020: The Brewers will be careful with their superstar right fielder in Spring Training, but the expectation remains that Yelich will be in the starting lineup for Opening Day against the Cubs on March 26 at Miller Park.
“If the Milwaukee Brewers had an actual game tomorrow,” he said, “then I would be able to participate. But I think it’s best for everyone involved that I hold off on that a little bit longer. I’m good to go. Feeling great. Looking forward to Spring Training starting.”