Milwaukee Brewers: Why Christian Yelich’s 2020 season was not a fluke

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 31: Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after striking out. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 31: Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after striking out. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts.
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 14: Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after striking out. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 2: Yelich had a career-high strikeout percentage but he hit balls harder

In 2020, Christian Yelich’s K% was up to 30.8%. That is a 10.6% difference compared to 2019 where his K% was 20.2%. Yelich has never surpassed 21% over the last 5 years so it was not some minuscule change, it was drastic. It is easy to nitpick big changes, but it could be a result of a different hitting mindset. The reason why I say this is because his exit velocity and hard-hit %  was the highest in 2020 compared to the last five seasons.

To me, this means he is sacrificing barrel to the ball for more power. This could also explain why teams shifted more often on Yelich. His pull % did not mightily increase in 2020, but it has increased a little since his time with the Miami Marlins. The former MVP had a career-high 55.6% hard-hit rate which is in the top 2% of the league.

According to FanGraphs, Yelich also minimized his soft contact percentage to 8.1% compared to his 14.4% in 2019. But, his medium-hit rate was higher while his hard-hit rate dropped compared to 2019.

Another interesting number to look at is his walk rate. Even with the Milwaukee Brewers OF’s high strikeout rate, his walk rate increased as well, which does not make too much sense. His walk rate was another career-high at 18.6%. The second-highest walk rate Yelich posted was 13.8% in 2019.

These anomalies may make you think that Yelich just had an off-year, but I think it says something about the bigger picture. My concern is that the stats we have covered thus far are representative of Yelich trying to do too much, and teams are effectively shifting against him.