The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
A Change in Scenery Bodes Well for Christian Yelich and the Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich has always been a good player.  This season he has been a great player, so much so that he’s among the top candidates for National League Most Valuable Player.

What changed for Yelich?  He was traded to the Brewers during the Miami Marlins’ fire sale over the winter.  Since he broke into the majors in 2013, he had never played for a winning team before this season, and he had always played in the shadow of Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

When it became apparent new Marlins executive Derek Jeter intended to dismantle the Marlins roster of its highest-priced players after their sale to new majority owner Bruce Sherman.  Yelich made it known publicly he wanted out, too.

Yelich got his wish when the Marlins traded him to the Brewers in January 2018 for three minor league prospects and one of their up-and-coming stars, Lewis Brinson.

After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2017, the Brewers had been looking for a couple of players who could put them over the top in reaching their first post-season since 2011.  In addition to Yelich, they added veteran free-agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain from Kansas City.

Prior to 2018, Yelich had been a productive player for the Marlins, with a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award to his credit.  During his first five seasons, he had a respectable career slash line of .290./.369/.432 with an OPS of .800.  He had been a key element of a roster the Marlins were trying to assemble around Stanton, but Yelich hadn’t yet attained all-star status.  From a fan awareness standpoint, he took a back seat to Stanton who was the face of the Marlins.

The Marlins had already traded other key players in second baseman Dee Gordon and outfielder Marcell Ozuna over the winter, when Stanton opted to accept Miami’s proposed trade to the New York Yankees.  It became obvious the Marlins’ strategy was to shed payroll in order to reduce their operating costs, and Yelich figured he didn’t want to be left on a team that was destined for more losing seasons in the years to come.

26-year-old Yelich has responded to his new home in “Brew Town” with the best season of his career and possibly the best offensive performance in the National League.  He is currently leading the National League in batting average (.320), slugging percentage (.570) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.957).  He is hitting a career-high 31 home runs to go along with 93 RBIs.  Twice he has hit for the cycle.  He was selected for his first All-Star Game in July.

The Brewers have capitalized on his presence, as well as that of fellow newcomer Lorenzo Cain.  Also bolstered by the home run power of Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar, the Brewers held the first-place position in the NL Central Division for most of the first half of the season.  The Chicago Cubs overtook them after the All-Star break, but the Brewers have been able to stay within a handful games of the Cubs since then.  With a week left in the regular season, they are currently 2 ½ games behind the Cubs, but 2 ½ games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the first wild card in the National League.  The Brewers haven’t appeared in the playoffs since they finished first in the Central Division in 2011.

Yelich hasn’t had to play second fiddle to anyone in Milwaukee.  He’s finally playing with a real playoff contender.  And that has to suit him just fine.

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