In third full season, Marlins OF demonstrating power side of all-around game
By Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Christian Yelich has been an asset in the Marlins' lineup since the day he made his Major League debut, July 23, 2013. Nearly three years to the day, Yelich is blossoming into a true five-tool player, and he put his power stroke on display in the Marlins' 9-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Yelich clubbed his ninth home run of the season, putting a Jerad Eickhoff two-seamer in the left-field seats to kick off a four-run fourth inning. With that blast, coming in his 377th plate appearance, he matched his career high set in 2014 over 660 plate appearances.
"It's gonna keep coming, too," manager Don Mattingly predicted the day after Yelich's first homer of the series on Tuesday.
"He can really hit," Mattingly continued. "We've been seeing all year long the different balls he hits to all parts of the field. He's been good off lefties, he gets himself good pitches to hit. I think that's why everybody thinks there's potential for power numbers there. I think it's there, just let it mature and let it come out."
There's still plenty of time for that. Yelich, only 24, has always shown gap power. He had 30 doubles in each of his first two full big league seasons to go with eight total triples. Yelich already has 25 doubles this season. He'd never finished a season with a slugging percentage higher than .416, but this year's is more than 60 points north of that -- .479.
But Yelich doesn't feel that power will become a big part of his game. He'll never be a power hitter in the traditional sense, but even a jump from nine-homer years to 15 or 20 will put him in the discussion of superstardom.
"Power is from bat speed and swinging at good pitches and understanding what counts you can drive balls in," Yelich said.
Much of that comes with experience, which Yelich is still gaining in his third full season in the Majors. For now, he'll continue to work with hitting coach Barry Bonds, who parked a few in his playing days.
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.