Christian Yelich is the best Miami Marlins player you’ve never heard of, largely because he’s not flashy (and he doesn’t do PEDs — we hope). Casual observers will tell you that what makes a great baseball player is someone who can hit long dingers and get a crapload of RBIs. And that may be true to some degree. But what really makes a great ballplayer is a guy who knows how to take pitches, is patient, can wear out the opposing pitcher, draws walks, and hits it anywhere in the field where it’s safe. And Yelich is arguably one of the best in the majors at all of these things. Baseball is a game of stats, and the stat gurus will tell you that the most valuable hitters on your team are the guys who can get on base, no matter how they do it. Yelich is a wizard at fouling off bad pitches and a warlock at drawing walks. This season alone, he was leading all of baseball in on-base percentage and driving pitchers batty with his uncanny ability to know their strike zones and hit safely. Best of all, he now has Barry Bonds — perhaps the most cerebral hitter of all time — as his hitting coach. Yelich may not be the sexiest player on the Marlins, but he’s the most effective. Someone’s gotta get on base when Giancarlo takes those monster swings.
Readers' choice: Giancarlo Stanton