Is Christian Yelich One Of The Elite Or Is A Regression Coming In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When we think of the Marlins’ Christian Yelich, most people go directly to the conclusion that he’s one of the premier young players in the game.  The numbers last season backed up that type of assertion, as he showed a strong average to go along with a career best power surge:

578 At Bats
.298 Batting Average (172 Hits)
21 Home Runs
98 RBI
78 Runs
9 Stolen Bases
.376 On Base Percentage
.483 Slugging Percentage
.356 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Is he really this good?  Is he heading for a regression?  Could he possibly take another step forward?  Let’s take a look and try to pinpoint his potential value for 2017:

 

Power
Obviously his career best power mark came courtesy of a spike in his HR/FB (23.6%).  Interestingly, while he did decrease his groundball rate it’s not like he wasn’t still driving the ball into the ground consistently:

  • 2013 – 63.2%
  • 2014 – 61.0%
  • 2015 – 62.5%
  • 2016 – 56.5%

He had a further improvement as the season went along, going from 59.0% in the first half to 53.8% in the second.  That shows potential, and it could simply be a case of maturation, though a 28.0% HR/FB after the All-Star Break tells us that he still could see a regression.  That doesn’t mean that he’s going to fall back into single-digits, but expecting something in the 15-18 HR range would be more believable.

 

Average
We keep waiting for his BABIP to regress, but sooner or later you have to buy into the elevated mark.  With a career .363 BABIP, last season’s number was right in line.  When coupled with his strong approach at the plate (22.9% O-Swing%, 9.2% SwStr%), there’s little reason to think that he won’t continue to hit .290+

 

Speed
While he has speed and did steal 21 bases back in ’14, he’s combined for 25 over the past two seasons.  There’s reason to think that he’s going to reach double-digits, and the upside is there to more than double last season’s mark (though we can’t go into the season expecting it).  Regardless, with speed down across the game that type of potential goes a long way.

 

Runs/RBI
Yelich found a home in the middle of the Marlins’ lineup last season and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change.  Joining Giancarlo Stanton, that should mean ample opportunities for runs/RBI.

 

Final Thoughts
Even with the potential for a regression, Yelich has proven that he’s one of the best young outfielders in the game.  While he doesn’t bring “excessive” numbers in any one category, his upside across the board is strong.  Think of him as a nearly lock to go .290/15/80/80/10, with the potential to outperform the numbers across the board.  In other words, buy him as long as the draft day value is right.

 

Source – Fangraphs 

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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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