PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Extra-base hits are coming with more regularity for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich.Regarded as a pure hitter with a penchant for getting on base, the organization has long felt Yelich would develop into a power threat. He gave another example Thursday, with a double during a
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Extra-base hits are coming with more regularity for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich.
Regarded as a pure hitter with a penchant for getting on base, the organization has long felt Yelich would develop into a power threat. He gave another example Thursday, with a double during a two-hit game in Miami's 11-6 loss to the Mets at First Data Field.
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Yelich walked in his first plate appearance, then singled in the fourth inning and doubled in the sixth to raise his Grapefruit League average to .545 with two home runs. Yelich has six hits this spring, four of them for extra bases.
"It's all angles. Hitting is angles," manager Don Mattingly said. "We're working on Yelly getting to that ball middle-in. Him just growing. Using the front side is going to get the ball in the air and get backspin. It's getting him to figure that out, and he will, and he is."
Yelich's double on Thursday was a drive into the right-center gap.
Last year, the left-handed hitting outfielder had a career-high 21 homers and 98 RBIs.
The Marlins are giving Yelich extra plate appearances as he prepares to join Team USA next week for the World Baseball Classic.
The slender center fielder is on the verge of being an All-Star. Last season, he boasted a slash line of .298/.376/.483.
"My approach up there is to try to put a good swing on a pitch, and see what happens," Yelich said. "I know a lot of guys are talking about swinging up on the ball, and get it in the air, all that stuff. I just don't think about that stuff when I'm up there. I'm just trying to put together a good at-bat. I guess, if my ball goes at a good launch angle, it's going to get a good result."
An area of maturation for Yelich is in how hard he is hitting the baseball. According to Statcast™, in 2016, he had a team-high 153 balls put in play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater. That's 5.64 percent of the pitches he saw.
In 2015, he had 115 balls with an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater, or 5.41 percent of the pitches he saw.
Yelich also is a strong hitter against the four-seam fastball, batting .362 against the pitch last year.
Yelich doesn't get wrapped up in all the data. He prefers to keep things simple.
"It's hard enough to barrel up a ball that's going 95 mph, let alone trying to do it," Yelich said. "I guess maybe you can play around with your swing and see if you can do that."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.