StaTuesday: Brewers' Yelich among hardest-hitting players in MLB
Outfielder Mark Whiten, who played in the majors from 1990-2000, had one of the better nicknames of recent memory – “Hard Hittin’” Mark Whiten.
While it worked so well due to the rhyming nature and Whiten had some power (he’s one of a handful of players to hit four home runs in a game), over his career the former outfielder hit just 105 home runs (with a high of 25 in 1993) and had a .415 slugging percentage.
It might be time to start applying that nickname instead to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.
OK, so it might not have the same poetry, but with Yelich it is based more on facts.
On Monday, Yelich hit his 30th home run of the season – the first Brewers player to reach that mark before the All-Star break. You need to hit a ball hard to get it to leave the yard, but Yelich isn’t just barreling up the ball when he goes deep.
Yelich has had 116 balls come off his bat at 95 mph or greater – considered a “hard hit” – which is just over half (51.1%) of his batted ball events (BBE). Only 10 players in the majors have more hard hits than Yelich.
Only three players have more barrels (if you’re curious what categories something as a barrel, here’s the explainer from MLB.com)
MOST BARRELS, MLB
|Jose Abreu||White Sox||41||16.7%||11.8%|
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||Braves||38||15.1%||9.8%|
But Yelich doesn’t have many soft hits, as evidenced by his average exit velocity of 94.1 mph, which is among the best in the majors.
TOP AVERAGE EXIT VELOCITY, MLB (min. 50 BBE)
|Yoan Moncada||White Sox||93.3|
Of the top-five players listed above, only Yelich had more than 145 BBE. Judge, who has been hurt much of the season, has only 65 (note: stats through Monday, July 1). Similarly, Gallo (108, but also strikes out a lot), Cruz (145) and Ohtani (128) all have spent time on the injured list.
Yelich averages 98.3 mph on his fly balls and line drives, which is fourth-highest in MLB behind just Gallo (102.3), Cruz (99.2) and Judge (98.8).
Just further proof (as if you needed it) on why Yelich is such a special hitter and potentially back-to-back MVP winner. Now if we could think of a good rhyming nickname …