Christian Yelich Is Great and He Can Only Get Better

Christian Yelich Is Great and He Can Only Get Better

The 2018 NL MVP is on a record-breaking pace.


While Wisconsin sports teams are often starved when it comes to team accomplishment (the Packers' 13 championships notwithstanding) they have seemed chockfull of individual accomplishment as of late.

Be it Aaron Rodgers' 2011 and 2014 MVP campaigns, Ryan Braun's 2011 MVP win (despite later acknowledging his use of steroids during that and other seasons), or Giannis Antetokounmpo's likely MVP grab this year based on his appropriately freakish regular season performance, Wisconsin is no stranger to individual sporting excellence.

And yet, even then, what Christian Yelich has managed to do is nothing short of amazing.

As 2018's National League MVP, expectations were high for Yelich, but many forecasts also offered the possibility of regression.

After all, 2018 offered a lot of firsts for Yelich. After being caught up in the black hole that is the Miami Marlins for the first five years of his career, Yelich was dealt to Milwaukee in a January trade. And he took to his new surroundings nicely, with a slash line of .326/.402/.598 and 36 home runs, bringing the NL batting title to the Brewers for the first time ever. He was named to his first All-Star outing and won numerous awards (Silver Slugger, Hank Aaron) before ultimately capturing MVP.

No, no one would've blamed Yelich if he had slipped a little bit, but in fact, the exact opposite has happened: he's red hot.

Including his most recent home run tonight against the Dodgers, Yelich already has 10 such scores in the Brewers' first 20 games of the season. He has appeared at bat 77 times and is clocking in with an incredibly competitive .351 batting average. With that number, he's currently 7th in the National League, a mere .001 points ahead of fellow Brewer Yasmani Grandal.

The profound thing, beyond these surface level statistics, is that Yelich might be getting even better.

As reported by the Brew Crew Ball blog, Yelich continues to hit the ball hard, as he did last season, with a hard-hit rate of 56%. However, he has also increased his average launch angle or the trajectory by which he hits the baseball. Sitting currently with an angle of 14.9 degrees, Yelich is far and away above his previous career-high of 4.7.

By joining the growing league of MLB sluggers who are intent on "lifting" the ball as a part of their batting strategy, Brew Crew Ball projects that Yelich could actually see his home run total increase this year, rising to 42 in total.

And even that is a conservative number compared to what FiveThirtyEight calculated last season. Looking at the very same aspect of Yelich's game in September of last year as the Brewers were making a push for the playoffs, the stats blog noted much the same as Brew Crew Ball now: if Yelich's home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB) were to hold and he had hit flyballs that much more frequently than his 24% rate, say at the MLB average of 35%, he could have hit 51 home runs in 2018. Increase that flyball percentage closer to 50-50 (as players like Matt Carpenter have been keen to do) while maintaining the same HR/FB ratio and Yelich, in theory, could have hit 72 homers in 2018.

For comparison for non-baseball statheads (of which I would not necessarily count myself) the single-season record for home runs is Barry Bonds' 73 in 2001.

And while it may be too early to speak of Yelich and Bonds in the same breath (especially as Bonds' controversial history with steroids continues to unfold) it is no point of equivocation that Yelich is off to a phenomenal start to the season in defense of his 2018 MVP award and the Brewers' position as the number one team in the National League.

While the Milwaukee Brewers have yet to see a World Series banner hoisted in their home rafters, there is little doubt that they are serious competitors with a statistically astronomical slugger that can do no wrong; he can only get better.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.


We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.


The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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