Christian Yelich has never been known as a “slugger,” at least in terms of brute power.
But the 24-year-old outfielder for the Marlins may be emerging into one.
Yelich, who slammed 21 home runs in 2016 — or one more than the combined total he amassed during his previous 2 1/2 seasons in the majors — was honored on Thursday with his first “Silver Slugger Award.”
“It was a cool little surprise,” Yelich said. “I wasn’t really expecting it.”
The award is voted on by managers and coaches and is given to the best offensive producers at each position. Yelich was one of the three National League outfielders chosen for the award.
Yelich hit .298. Using advanced metics, his WAR (wins above replacement) of 5.3 topped all N.L. outfielders.
“The power ticked up a little bit this year,” Yelich said. “And working with Barry (Bonds) and Frank (Menechino) and talking to Donnie (Mattingly) a little bit, and just the combination of talking to those guys really helped a lot.”
Yelich said there’s always room for improvement.
“I think everyone just tries to get better ever year as far as consistency,” he said. “You just want to improve as a player every season and build off what you did. That will probably be the goal going into spring training.”