MILWAUKEE — From stranded in South Beach to thriving in America’s Dairyland, the best offensive player in the National League this season still isn’t quite sure what hit him.
“It’s been a great ride,” Christian Yelich said Thursday before a workout at Miller Park. “It’s been a lot of fun. You’re enjoying it as a player. It’s been an honor.”
Yelich, the front runner to win the NL’s Most Valuable Player award, will lead the Brewers into Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday against the Dodgers. The Brewers have plenty of tools, including another MVP candidate in Lorenzo Cain and a talented bullpen, but Yelich might best embody the underdog spirit of this bunch, which rallied to overtake the Cubs for the NL Central title and then swept the Rockies in the NLDS.
The 26-year-old Yelich posted a .326/.402/.598 slash line with 36 homers and 110 RBIs in leading the NL in batting average and slugging percentage. The Yankees might have gotten Giancarlo Stanton in last winter’s Miami sell-off, but the Brewers struck gold with Yelich, who was acquired for outfielder Lewis Brinson and three minor league players.
“[Yelich] is a completely different hitter,” said Gio Gonzalez, who arrived to the Brewers from the Nationals at the trade deadline and will pitch Game 1. “He’s in a smaller ballpark. That’s a big ballpark in Miami, so it’s beneficial sometimes for the pitcher. But I think he’s been the same hitter from when I faced him before.
“He’s unbelievable. I think he’s an incredible silent hitter. There’s not much movement in his hands. He’s just got an approach that he’s on you, and he feels that. He picks up whatever he needs to pick up as far as hitting and what he sees and what he wants to do to certain pitchers.”
Yelich had a respectable .807 OPS last season, but increased his power, jumping from 18 to 36 homers — without, according to Yelich, a conscious effort to improve his launch angle.
His best work came in September, when Yelich hit 10 homers and posted a 1.307 OPS for a team that overcame a six-game deficit to the Cubs over the final six weeks, winning a one-game tiebreaker at Wrigley Field.
Even stud lefty Clayton Kershaw — who will start for the Dodgers on Friday — had his troubles with Yelich, surrendering two homers to him in his two starts against the Brewers this season.
“The great thing about our game is like it’s: What’s next?” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “What are you going to do based off that last matchup? What are you going to do off my success against you or your success against me? And I think that is the cool part about watching Kershaw versus Yelich is to see what happens next.”
The Brewers haven’t reached the World Series since “Harvey’s Wallbangers” won the American League pennant in 1982 before losing to the Cardinals. In 2011, the Brewers advanced to the NLCS before the Cardinals eliminated them. Now the Brewers have won 11 straight games and seem like the team of destiny in this postseason.
In addition to Yelich and Cain, the Brewers have veterans Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas to help anchor the lineup, and former Mets and Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson coming off the bench. The Brewers bullpen has been electric, led by 24-year-old lefty Josh Hader and his .0876 WHIP.
Yelich couldn’t have seen this opportunity coming as he pondered his future at this time last year.
“It’s been a crazy year for sure,” Yelich said. “I think a year ago today, if you had told me I would be sitting here and getting ready to play in the NLCS with everything that has transpired over the last few months, I might have called you crazy.”
Source : https://nypost.com/2018/10/11/christian-yelich-cant-believe-hes-in-this-spot-now/