After a couple of down years, many Brewers fans were worried if Christian Yelich would ever get back to an All-Star caliber level, but he answered those doubts this year. The Brewers were in desperate need of offensive help going into the year and needed a bounce-back year from Yelich. The former MVP was able to fix his swing, solidify himself in the lineup, and be productive throughout the year.
The lefty hit .278 with 19 home runs and 76 RBI showing that he has a place in this Brewers roster. He also led off for most of the year, being very productive in that role and starting the Crew off with early-inning offense. Yelich never lost his plate vision and he has always been good at getting on base through walks, but this year was the first time he was used almost exclusively in the leadoff spot.
With the Brewers having many young outfielders in Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer, and Garrett Mitchell, as well as veteran Tyrone Taylor and deadline-acquisition Mark Canha, there were a lot of good options that Counsell had to fill in those roles. Jackson Chourio, the Brewers top prospect, also has a good chance at breaking spring training with the big-league squad, meaning he’ll need a role to earn some innings. Yelich solidified himself this year as a starter going forward, whether that’s at DH or in the outfield. Given the one major flaw to his game — his throwing arm from left field — and Milwaukee’s surplus of outfielders, the Brewers seem likely to utilize him as the regular DH moving forward.
The 32-year-old showed he still has some good years left in him, and will still be a productive cog in the Brewers system going forward as his contract runs through his age-37 season and potentially his age-38 season with a mutual option. He also may be in a position to mentor some of the aforementioned young players. With Craig Counsell now gone to Chicago, there may be some changes to the lineup and the team heading into next season, but Yelich will be here and hope to stay productive for the next few years.
We’ll continue the rankings of the Most Valuable Brewers each Monday and Wednesday through December. Come back on Wednesday to see who we have at No. 1.