Derek Dietrich has been the Marlins’ starting second baseman since being called up from the minors in the middle of last season and he’s actually hit well this year with a .773 OPS in 41 games, but he’s been demoted back to Triple-A because the team thinks his defense is terrible.
Dietrich has seven errors, which is tied for the MLB lead among second basemen, and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes that he “has had plenty of defensive struggles” even beyond the error total. Ultimate Zone Rating agrees, pegging Dietrich as 9.0 runs below average in 800 career innings at the position.
But still: 24-year-old middle infielders with a .773 OPS don’t grow on trees and Dietrich’s defensive numbers aren’t considerably worse than plenty of other regulars with good bats. He’s a former Rays second-round draft pick who was acquired by the Marlins in exchange for Yunel Escobar and certainly seems good enough to remain in their long-term plans.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.