Wisconsin’s favorite baseball player is off to what some might call a slow start. Coming off two straight MVP caliber seasons, Christian Yelich has one hit entering today’s home opener against the Cardinals. That hit was a bomb and the Brewers have only played six games, but these struggles didn’t just start once the regular season rolled around.
During the Brewers Blue-Gold intrasquad games, Yelich was already having difficulties at the plate. He was mic’d up for Game 1 (which was great by the way) and talked about the matter himself. He continually talked about how he “sucked,” and we got a real-time taste of what it’s like to strike out at the big league level.
Now, you hear the words “one hit” and you know it isn’t ideal. But let’s visualize it, shall we? We’re going to look at every baseball analytics guy’s favorite statistic; batting average. Here’s Yelich’s Heat Map so far this season. (Editor’s note: blue is bad)
One hit, pitch right down the middle. This is what they call the “Millis Line.” All kidding aside (I was a great contact hitter), I genuinely like the guy and want him to break out of this funk and get back to the form we’ve gotten used to since he’s been in Milwaukee. So I decided to dig in and see what might be causing these issues.
After poring over the data and throwing out some different hypotheses, it became clear what needs to change. Christian Yelich needs to keep his eye on the ball.
Studies show that hitting a ball, or anything for that matter, is easier when you are looking at it. It makes logical sense; you look at the road when you drive, your food when you eat, books when you read. Those things are all the same. But let’s take it back to the visual evidence.
Here is Yelich in 2019. A season that despite being cut short by injury, saw him put up personal bests and league leading numbers in pretty much every statistical category, including hitting .329 with 44 dingers. Notice the eyes. Notice the ball.
And here we have Christian in the year of our lord 2020. I don’t see a ball anywhere, so I know he isn’t looking at it. That one hit combined with 12 strikeouts brings us to a .037 average.
If there’s anything I learned from baseball besides “play’s at first,” it’s that you keep your eye on the ball. And if you’re still skeptical at this point, how do you explain this bold prediction from yesterday coming true?
Keep your eye on the ball