The former first round pick of the Marlins has not had an easy go of things in the first half of the 2013 season. He began the season on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis and missed the first two weeks of the year before beginning his season at Double-A Jacksonville. In early June Yelich then suffered an abdominal strain while diving for a ball and missed another three weeks before returning, though his return so far has been rehab in the Gulf Coast League and currently the Florida State League.
The outfielder who has split his time between center and left field this year was hitting .262/.342/.518 before his abdominal injury with Jacksonville. He has hit .256/.341/.462 between the Gulf Coast League and Florida State League in his rehab that has spanned 44 plate appearances. The hit tool has been a big point of emphasis from scouts who have seen him play, though this season he has struggled to hit for the high average he has shown in the past. It should be noted that on May 23rd he was hitting .304 before entering a slump where he went into a slump where he went 0-23 and dropped to .257 and headed to the disabled list shortly after with the abdominal strain.
Let's take a look at his spray chart and see how he spreads the ball around.
As a left handed hitter Yelich makes an effort to really go up the middle and the other way with the ball rather than try to pull the ball, especially when the ball is in the air. When he hits the ball on the ground he does have big pull tendencies though, which is easily shown by the 31% between first and second base compared to just 10% between shortstop and third base. It is very surprising to see anyone going the opposite way in the outfield three times more often than they are pulling the ball though.
Now let's take a look at the rate at which he gets hits when he goes to each spot on the field.
As we saw in the spray chart, Yelich goes to left field a lot more often than he goes to right field, but as we can see here he has a much higher rate of success when he pulls the ball than when he goes the other way. Having done these charts for a while now, the .923 BABIP (including home runs) is the highest I have ever seen, though plenty of guys have been over .700 to their pull side so while that may drop some over time it isn't in a range that it will likely drop off dramatically. Left field is a bit interesting as he goes that way so often, but it is easily the place where he (and to be fair, almost every hitter) has the lowest average of the three outfield spots.
While getting hits is of course important, the quality of the hits also matters. Let's take a look at the isolated power rates to each position.
Yelich is showing off good isolated power (batting average subtracted from slugging percentage) to all fields. While his isolated power is the strongest to his pull side he is showing quite a bit of power to both center and right. Of the fourteen hits Yelich has to left field only two have been singles. While he is making outs more often when he goes to left nearly all of his hits have been for extra-bases.He has three home runs to both left and center, while he has two of them to right field.
With his current approach he may struggle to reach his full power potential as he leans heavily on going to center and the opposite field where his power output has been good but not nearly as strong as it is to the pull side. Adding a bit more balance to his spray chart will likely help him out, though perhaps some of those grounders being fielded by the first and second baseman will start to get through and even things out some in the future.