Yelich has lost his aggression and its hurting him

We all know Christian Yelich and the up’s and downs he has been through. 2022 so far has been another up and down season but so far he has a 101 wRC+ which is hard to believe considering his numbers just a week or 2 ago but that's why small samples are fun.

Considering his ups and downs in 2022, there is a lot to be excited about. According to BaseballSavant, his launch angle is 8.7%, his barrel rate is 14% and hard hit rate is 54% which are all better then is 2018 MVP season. The interesting thing with Yelich is he was an MVP and home run machine without a "good" launch angle. But that's only true on a high level, he actually had a good launch angle when swinging at the 1st pitch.

Yelich and the 1st Pitch

This fangraphs article breaks it down fantastically so I will just sum it up. His approach was really good and he was aggressive vs 1st pitches.

  • In 2018, Yelich swung at a then career high of 28.9% of 1st pitches, in 2019 he was at 30.3%

  • He didn't start doing this until he broke out in the 2nd half of 2018 (data below is from the fangraphs article linked above), he carried this into 2019.

    • April: 20% first-pitch-swing rate

    • May: 22%

    • June: 24%

    • July: 30%

    • August: 41%

  • In 2020, it dropped to 13.4% and remained in that area. Here is his career breakdown of first-pitch swing rate

    • 2015: 24.4%

    • 2016: 21.2%

    • 2017: 19.5%

    • 2018: 28.9%

    • 2019: 30.3%

    • 2020: 13.4%

    • 2021: 22.8%

    • 2022: 20.9%

But wait, there is more!

His swing rate is also generally just down, its 39.1% in 2022 and it was 44.3% and 45.2% in 2018 and 2019 respectively. He is just being too passive on good pitches and to back this up, we can look at his swing rate at meat balls. In his MVP-like years he swung at meatballs 81.3% of the time, that's compared to 76.7% of the time this season. Just to show this is consistent it was 74% in 2020 and 75% in 2021.

Also, to go a little further, he is seeing more meatballs now than in 2018 and 2019. In 2022 he is seeing a meatball 6.6% of the time vs 6.3% in 2018 and 4.9% in 2019.


Basically, Yelich is getting good pitches to hit, but he is not swinging at them enough. Especially, the 1st pitch of the at bat, he needs to be more aggressive on 1st pitches again. And anecdotally this generally seems true too. Y elich may never be the same player he was but his batted ball profile says there is still a lot to be unlocked and he should at least try adjusting his approach or at least that's my opinion.