Christian Yelich will be a big part of whether the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers will be successful or not. The predictions for 2021 were recently released, and it can not be underestimated how important a firing Yelich is for this Brewers team.
After such a disappointing 2020 campaign for him, it is interesting to see what exactly went wrong and what could change heading into 2021 that will help him rediscover this form. Yelich himself made the prediction before the 2020 campaign that no one knew what was going to happen, and that proved to be correct.
2021 Milwaukee Brewers: The Importance of Yelich
To grasp the importance that Yelich has to the Brewers, you don’t have to look much further than the achievements of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Yelich struck 36 HRs and had a batting average of .326 in 2018, the first time the Brewers had made the playoffs since 2011. Fast forward a year, Yelich hammered 44 HRs and averaged .329 as the Brewers claimed playoff spots in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1982.
Now we look at 2020, a season that had a lot of people questioning how players will perform with no crowds and increased restrictions.
Yelich posted a measly .205 average by his expectations and had a strikeout rate of 30.8% (10% higher than 2018 and 2019). This was the highest strikeout rate of his career and his lowest batting average in his career.
Milwaukee Brewers finished 29-31, albeit sealing a playoff spot despite their losing record, recording their worst win percentage since 2016. This cannot be heavily pinned on Yelich though, there is a big correlation between how he performs and how the Brewers perform. The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers will rely on Yelich due to his leadership.
The Success of 2018 and 2019
The 2018 season was a monumental year for both the Brewers and Yelich. He won the NL MVP Award, whilst the Brewers reached the NLCS after winning their first division title since 2011.
Yelich’s spray chart was impressive from 2018. He found all areas of the field and had plenty of singles, doubles, and triples, as well as his 36 HRs. Yelich came 2nd in the NL for overall hits, thus showing the importance of him getting bat-on-ball.
This form was not only replicated in 2019, but it was smashed out of the park (excuse the pun). His average rose to .329, whilst he hit 8 more HRs and even stole 8 more bases.
Words don’t do Yelich’s form any justice. His spray chart alone shows a huge shift to hitting further up the field. His homers became longer, and there were far fewer hits around the infield. This coincided with more walks, showing that pitchers were having trouble controlling him.
His highlights from 2019 show his amazing form and pure hitting ability. If he hadn’t finished the season early due to injury, then there would have been high hopes for his 2018 numbers to be shattered even further.
The Problems of 2020
Everyone anticipated 2020 to be a tough year, regardless of who the players were and how they had been performing. However, no-one expected to see such a big drop in form like Yelich’s.
His statistics from 2020 make for some hard reading. His strikeout rate was the highest in his career, his batting average was his lowest, and he even stole just 4 bases. There was the positive that his walk rate was the highest to date, but it doesn’t make up for such a poor season.
So what went wrong?
There could be some questions that the season-ending injury of 2019, plus a stop-start Spring Training, had an impact on his 2020 season. The uncertainties of how the season would pan out, in a restricted setting in front of no fans, is another.
Whe you look at his output from 2020, however, it’s easier to see where he may have gone wrong.
His sporadic spray chart highlights the lack of offensive output that he had. Although he picked up 12 HRs in just 58 games, his singles were hugely reduced and his doubles/triples were virtually non-existent.
Another interesting visual is the location of his strikeouts. For a player that regularly tries to go long, his strikeouts are usually scattered in the zone and around the zone. His chart from 2020 looks slightly different.
As seen by the chart, his 2020 strikeouts were very much in or marginally outside the zone. This meant that he was finding it harder to read pitches and/or making more mistakes.
This will have to be cleaned up in order for him to lead the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers to success.
2021 Milwaukee Brewers: The Expectations of Yelich
There will be a lot of pressure on Yelich to rediscover his form. This will be coming from fans and team-mates alike. However, one thing we have learned from all sports is that form is temporary but class is permanent.
Yelich will go on to have a successful season in 2021, hit 30+ HRs, and have an average of .280 at the very least. Players of his caliber don’t settle for mediocre stats and this will drive him on further.
There will be hopes that the upcoming season is more normal and has over 120 games. If that is the case then Yelich will be back and the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers’ season will result in an NL Central title.
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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images