Outfielder Christian Yelich has the largest salary on the Milwaukee Brewers roster. With that, come expectations and a spotlight on production. For a small market team, fans expect their star player to produce results. But the critique for Yelich is starting to reach a dangerous level.
This article does not mean he is free of criticism. Christian himself has said, multiple times, he knows he needs to be better and is trying to be. After a spectacular 2018 and 2019, Yelich signed a massive extension with Milwaukee after breaking his kneecap off a foul ball. It was a nine-year, $215M extension. He will be making $26M until the 2028 season. Since then, he has been showing more production, but nothing near what he reached before 2020.
During the 2020 season over 58 games, Yelich averaged .205 with 12 home runs, 22 RBIs and a .786 OPS. In 2021, he had a .248 average, nine home runs, 51 RBIs and a .735 OPS. His stats in 2022 were a .252 average, 14 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .738 OPS. His strike outs in 2022 were also a career-high at 162, an average of one per game.
So far in 2023, it is a lot of the same. He shows burst of signs that he is returning back to form, and then hits a huge slump. He has an average of .224, three home runs and 11 RBIs. The big issue again is that his OPS is at .660 and has 34 strike outs compared to 24 hits. He needs to start getting on base more and producing. Yelich earned his contract, but should also be showing more of it on the field.
It’s super frustrating. What’s also super frustrating is that we are starting to reach a level from the fans that needs to stop before it gets worse.
Christian Yelich Threats At American Family Field
On April 8th, 2023, I attended the very not-fun game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee had only five hits and lost 6-0. It was the Giannis City Connect jersey giveaway, with lots of fans and was a really good time. Yelich actually had one of those hits that night. A really fun night, except for one giant thing.
The first time Yeli stepped up to the plate, I started to hear a few boos. It’s not the newest thing in baseball. If a player making a big contract is struggling, the fans give them a hard time. But it’s happening more than it usually does. I started noticing that one set of booing wasn’t stopping. Christian grounded out for his first at-bat. I looked over and saw a dude continuing to stand and boo him. His buddies eventually got him to sit down.
Yelich was up to bat again in the bottom of the third. This time, it was with bases loaded. Once again, Yelich grounded out to second. And once again, the dude stood up and booed him. But not just booing this time. Threats. He was starting to yell threats and some very nasty insults to Christian Yelich.
He wouldn’t stop. The people he was with were trying, while laughing, but still trying to get him to calm down and sit. He wouldn’t. My blood was boiling. I was sitting close enough that game where there is a chance Yelich heard some of it. Imagine bringing a team a game away from the World Series and five years later you are hearing threats? The dude was finally removed. He didn’t get to boo him after his hit in the eighth inning! I will never forget the hate in that dude’s eyes for a baseball player on a team he cheers for. It was like seeing a rabid dog.
Brewers Social Media Becoming A Christian Yelich Pile-On
First of all, I know what some of you are saying and thinking. That social media isn’t real. To stay on the positivity train. But John, that was just one person out of more than 40,000 and mostly social media trolls. And I agree.
Lately, though, the Yelich slander has reached an all-time high. Again, you can be whatever type of fan you want. I am in the camp of trying to stay positive if possible. There is enough terrible stuff in this world already, so why turn baseball into a constant negative? You are allowed to be frustrated at Christian Yelich. Fans are allowed to believe his contract is preventing other extensions on the team. We are reaching a new level now, though.
Over the past week or so, the conversation is again turning to that Christian Yelich must have cheated. In 2018, a Chicago Cubs blog accused the Brewers of cheating. Yu Darvish then retweeted it and alluded to it with Yelich. Christian had a funny response to it, and Darvish eventually clarified that he didn’t think he was cheating. But that hasn’t stopped Brewers fans now. People believe that is the only conclusion now. He must have cheated in 2018 and 2019 during those career years. Nevermind the broken kneecap, the back issues or Covid taking away a year. It has to be black and white, there is no grey area here. And the Brewers were apparently so bad at cheating, they didn’t even cheat to win the NCLS Game 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers to get into the World Series.
Since we don’t have a month-by-month breakdown from Yelich on what has happened at the plate, he must have cheated. And it’s snowballing. It’s all over the timelines and social media sites. If It was one or two people, who cares. It’s a pattern now. Christian is the reason Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames will be traded this year. Yelich can’t throw anymore and needs to be benched. People still think he can be sent to Triple A.
I have been tagged and mentioned in other tweets too regarding Yelich. I have seen that he “gave up” on the team after he signing his extension. There is zero proof of that, but since it’s happened before in MLB, this must also be the case. I’ve gotten the response “can we beat the sh*t out of him and give the money to Burnes?” this past week. Very normal and not concerning at all behavior to see that one. We now have people wanting to hurt baseball player online and at games.
Christian Yelich Is Still A Milwaukee Brewer
I’m often yelled at or mocked for trying to stay positive. In my opinion, it’s a different approach to the frustration. Celebrate what he still does and just hope for the best. At this point, there might never be a time he is close to the level that he was. And it’s just hard to believe that. He can still be a .270 hitter with 20 dingers and 80 RBIs. When he gets in these funks, its depressing. He starts doing well again, and then suddenly hitting ground balls right to the second baseman again for a whole game.
We all wish he would do better or that we can find a true explanation for everything that has happened. But my worry is it is starting to snowball. The anger is getting worse. Attacks on Christian are increasing and getting personal and nasty just because they can. If it continues, you will have more fans reading that, believing those things, saying it as well and turning into the dude at American Family Field. The anger at Christian Yelich inside the ballpark will only get worse if it keeps going like this.
We need to take a breath before this all gets out of hand. As a Brewers fan, we can’t start calling a player a cheater and that he quit on the team because he doesn’t hit 40 home runs anymore. We can’t start threatening him online and at baseball games because his launch angle isn’t as effective. Everyone needs to be better than that.
We are all allowed to be frustrated and do what we want as a fan. But people are also allowed to call others out if you are starting to take everything too far. We are getting very close to the “too far” part right now. Milwaukee fans need a quick reset, and to focus on winning the NL Central in 2023 and making the playoffs. Christian Yelich could still hit 37 home runs this year. Anything is possible.
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Very well written! And very true. Baseball is a sport where failing the majority of the time is still good. Christian is working his tail off to be better. You think he wants to play like this? Absolutely not! So don’t be so hard on any player, especially Christian. There main goal is to WIN,and that’s what they’re doing. So be happy. Another thing Mr. Yelich has done a ton of charity work around Milwaukee and given a lot of money for things in Milwaukee. Don’t forget those things. He’s a great person, who’s, trying his best to give Milwaukee fans a World Series. He’s one of 9 out there everyday. Stay off his back. That will help him too.
Thank you, John, for writing this piece. I sit behind the Brewers dugout at select home games, so I see Yelich going over to the batting coaches after an at-bat to go over whatever it is they are going over. I see he’s making an effort. However, he swings at pitches high out of the strike zone and a lot of pitchers have honed in on that. They will get him to foul off one or two balls and then throw the high inside fastball which he swings at and misses, every time. At the fundamental level, I don’t see anything wrong with his swing. It’s level, stays level, and is pretty. When it makes contact, it’s a great hit, many times for extra bases. He can find gaps still and place the ball enough to get past the defender.
This is yet another new hitting tandem from when he started. Let’s face it: there is only one player hitting above 300 right now on the roster and that is Caratini, who is batting .310. if it were one or two players at this point hitting like Yelich is, then I wouldn’t be concerned but given the plethora of hitters below .300, it concerns me. Yes, it is early in the season so there is time. But someone needs to do something. It’s not just Yelich–yeah, he’s the most frustrating one so therefore is dubbed the ‘poster boy for hitting woes’ but it’s not just him.
With Yelich, it is mental for now. Blame COVID, blame fans, Blame Canada for all I care, but it comes down to Yelich himself. He has to believe.
Someone needs to call Darnell and pick his brain.