Who is new Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich?
The Milwaukee Brewers gave up a lot of prospects — four in all, including some big names — to acquire outfielder Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins.
Just who is this young and up-and-coming superstar? Here’s a few notes on the newest Brewers outfielder.
— When we say young, we mean it. Yelich just turned 26 in December but already has 643 major-league games under his belt.
— Some people seem to think he and Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” look alike. You be the judge.
— A first-round pick (No. 23 overall) by the Marlins in 2010, Yelich was Miami’s minor league player of the year in both 2011 and ’12. After a brief stint in Double-A in 2013, he made it to the majors at age 21 later that year. He was the third-youngest player in the National League that season, behind Washington’s Bryce Harper and his then-teammate Jose Fernandez.
— Yelich has some athletic genes — both his father, Chris, and his grandfather, Fred Gehrke, played football. Chris Yelich, an offensive lineman, played for UCLA in the 1980s. Gehrke was a halfback for the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams, but his real claim to fame is that he was the one who designed the Rams’ logo, and is credited with starting the trend of putting logos on NFL helmets.
— Yelich’s brother, Colin, also played baseball. He was a catcher/first baseman in Atlanta’s system from 2015-16.
— Finding a way to get on base has not been an issue for Yelich from the moment he entered pro ball. His career minor-league on-base percentage is .388. In the majors, it is .369, with no season below .362. Last year, the highest OBP for a Brewers player with 300+ plate appearances was .359 by Eric Thames.
— In 2016, Yelich won a Silver Slugger after batting .298/.376/.483 with career highs in doubles (38), home runs (21) and RBI (98).
— He was one of three regulars on champion Team USA to bat over .300 in the 2017 World Baseball Classic (.310 in his case) and he was named to the all-WBC team.
— Yelich uses a Louisville Slugger maple bat, measuring 34 inches and weighing 31 ounces.
— In case you’re wondering why Yelich might sit out when Milwaukee plays the Mets, he named his five toughest pitchers to face in the National League East and three are on New York: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia. The other two were Washington’s Max Scherzer and Blake Treinen, the latter now on Oakland.
— It isn’t just offense with Yelich, though. He’s also a very good defensive outfielder. He won a Gold Glove in 2014 — the first Marlins outfielder to do so, plus the youngest in franchise history — and led the NL in total zone runs and range factor as a left fielder in 2015. Last season, as a center fielder, he finished third in range factor among all outfielders.
— Yelich and Ryan Braun have a couple things in common (besides being on the Brewers, of course). Both were born and raised in California and received scholarship offers to play at Miami. While Braun did join the Hurricanes, Yelich, who accepted the offer after spurning another from UCLA, decided to sign with the Marlins instead after he was drafted. In addition, both Yelich and Braun signed hefty contract extensions early in their careers. Yelich signed the second-largest deal ($49.75 million) for a player who had two or fewer service years in MLB; Braun has the No. 3 contract ($45 million). Andrelton Simmons, who also was dealt after signing his extension, is No. 1 ($58 million).
— In case you’re wondering, Yelich signed his seven-year contract in March 2015; he would have been arbitration eligible in 2017 and up for free agency in 2020. He is now signed through 2021 with a team option of $15 million in 2022.