When you look at Christian Yelich, the term power hitter is not the first thing that comes to mind. That’s reserved for Giancarlo Stanton in the Miami Marlins lineup or maybe Marcell Ozuna, his other outfield mate. Yelich proved his power this past season with 21 homeruns, which was one more than he has hit in his Major League career on his way to winning his first Silver Slugger Award.
The 24-year-old Yelich is part of a core of Marlins players who figure to be a major part of the team’s success for the foreseeable future.
“It was a cool little surprise,” Yelich said in the Miami Herald. “I wasn’t really expecting it.”
The award is voted on by managers and coaches and is given to the best offensive producers at each position. Yelich was one of the three National League outfielders chosen for the award.
Yelich hit .298. Using advanced metics, his WAR (wins above replacement) of 5.3 topped all N.L. outfielders.
“The power ticked up a little bit this year,” Yelich said. “And working with Barry (Bonds) and Frank (Menechino) and talking to Donnie (Mattingly) a little bit, and just the combination of talking to those guys really helped a lot.”
Yelich was drafted by the Marlins 23rd overall in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft and agreed to a $1.7 million signing bonus on August 17, shortly before the deadline to sign 2010 draftees was about to pass.
While Yelich is excited about winning the award, he said there is still room for improvement. The Marlins were a better hitting ball club in 2016 as a whole, but producing runs is something the team still must work on.
“I think everyone just tries to get better every year as far as consistency,” he said. “You just want to improve as a player every season and build off what you did. That will probably be the goal going into spring training.”