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What's Wrong With Christian Yelich?

Ryan Phillips
Division Series - Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
Division Series - Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves - Game Three / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Milwaukee Brewers trail the Atlanta Braves 2-1 in the National League Division Series after losing 3-0 on Monday. The Brewers have been outscored 6-0 in back-to-back losses and have mustered just two runs in the series. They might be scoring more runs if their most expensive player was contributing. Unfortunately, Christian Yelich has been mostly MIA since the end of the 2019 season.

After winning the NL MVP in 2018 and finishing second in 2019, Yelich signed a massive, nine-year, $215 million deal. That came after he ended the 2019 season on the injured list after fracturing his kneecap on a foul ball. Since then, he hasn't been the same player.

In 2018 and 2019, Yelich's first two seasons in Milwaukee, he was in the conversation as the best hitter in Major League Baseball. He slashed .327/.415/.631., had 80 home runs and 207 RBIs while posting an OPS of 1.046 and an OPS+ of 171. He was incredible at the plate. It made sense for Milwaukee to give him the contract it did. Unfortunately, he hasn't lived up to it since.

In 2020 and 2021, Yelich has been a disaster. In 175 games over the past two seasons, Yelich has slashed .234/.360/.392. He's hit 21 home runs and driven in 73 RBIs over those two campaigns combined, with an OPS of .752 and an OPS+ of 103. For reference, an OPS+ of 100 is league average.

In the shortened 2020 season, he slashed .205/.356/.430 with 12 home runs and 22 RBIs in 58 games. His OPS of .786 was low for him, but not too alarming in a weird season. In 2021, things took a turn for the worse. He slashed .248/.362/.373 with nine home runs, 51 RBIs and an OPS of .736. He went from hitting 36 home runs in 2018 and 44 in 2019, to 21 over the past two seasons. His power has absolutely vanished.

So far in the postseason, Yelich is 2-for-10 with two singles, five strikeouts and two walks. It's worth asking, what the hell has happened to him?

Yelich obviously had the knee injury to end the 2019 season and dealt with a back issue at times in that season as well. He was on the injured list twice in 2021 for a back injury as well, while also seeing time on the COVID-19 restricted list. He only played 117 games in 2021 as a result of his various health issues.

So maybe he's got a back injury, or maybe something is just off like we've seen with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. Both players looked like the future of the National League two years ago and both have completely fallen off the map.

Yelich will turn 30 this offseason and is rapidly moving out of his prime. Whatever is wrong he'll need to quickly rediscover the magic, or could have an all-time bust of a contract.

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