Christian Yelich doesn’t have a bodybuilder’s physique and isn’t known for his power stroke.
The most home runs he had ever hit in a season was nine.
“If you asked me if I thought I was going to hit 20 homers this year, I’d probably tell you probably not based on the track record,” Yelich said. “But it was something I always kind of thought was in there.”
It was. Yelich hit his 20th on Wednesday night.
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And manager Don Mattingly feels Yelich can hit even more in the coming years.
“It’s coming,” Mattingly said. “I think it’s only going to get better.”
After hitting seven homers during the first half of the season, Yelich has amped it up in the second half with 13 so far. He credits Marlins hitting coaches Barry Bonds and Frank Menechino for a change in approach that has led to more wallop.
At the same time, Yelich hasn’t sacrificed his pure hitting skills to a large extent. He took a .299 average into Thursday, a percentage point below his final average of .300 from a season ago, though his second-half average of .279 is below his first-half figure of .317.
“I was still staying within myself and my approach,” Yelich said. “I wasn’t going up there [thinking] I’m just going to try to hit homers.”
Mattingly has suggested that Yelich could be a 30-homer player.
“He told me that earlier this year,” Yelich said. “I said, ‘Hey man, let’s get to 10 first, and then we’ll see what happens after that.’ I don’t know about 30. It’s not one of those things where you go into the season [saying] I’m going to hit 30.”
Mattingly said reaching the 20-homer milestone should only build confidence in Yelich that he can hit even more.
“All of a sudden, you hit 20,” Mattingly said. “Your mind goes, ‘I can do that.’ It takes you to a different place and a different confidence. If we can enhance that, he can continue to get better.”
▪ The Marlins are the first team since the 2008 Brewers to have all three of their outfielders hit at least 20 homers.
PITCHERS A PLENTY
A franchise record was tied on Wednesday when Odrisamer Despaigne made his Marlins debut. Despaigne became the 31st pitcher used this season by the Marlins, matching the team mark set in 2010.
Seven teams this season have used at least as many pitchers as the Marlins.
The Braves have used more pitchers than any team in the majors: 35.
The Cardinals and Royals have used the fewest: 21.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.27 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Matt Wisler (7-12, 4.93), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 5.04) vs. Braves RHP Aaron Blair (1-6, 7.71), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.