July 5, 2022

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Yelich talks swing and 'going underwater'

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This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

You may have seen the quote the other day — Christian Yelich speaking of going “underwater” after becoming the first player ever to hit for the cycle three times against the same team. He’s a Malibu guy, so maybe we should have expected a wave analogy.

There was more to those comments than fit in our story, so I thought I would share the full exchange here. It’s a glimpse into how an elite hitter is thinking about the ups and downs of his Brewers tenure. Here’s that full exchange from Cincinnati:

On the way he has been striking the baseball recently:
“I’m kind of just trying to stay with it. There’s a little bit of bad luck sometimes, squaring up the ball and not having a lot to show for it. You just have to stick with it, keep working every day and try and be as consistent as possible. You’re going to have good days, [and] bad days when things aren’t going to go your way. Just try and stack as many good days on top of each other as possible. Put the work in, keep grinding, just put your head down and go underwater. Be the best version of yourself, whatever that is going to be.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to do this year, and I’ve been definitely feeling better, a little bit more like myself, unlike in the past. I’m trying to put the work in every day and I’m striving for consistency. They’re not all going to be good games. Just hit the ball as hard as you can, and whatever happens after that is out of your control.”

On working to find the timing of his swing:
“I definitely think there’s room for improvement. I’m not where I want to be all the time yet. And I don’t think anybody in here ever is. You’re constantly working. You don’t want to take anything for granted. You’re always trying to make improvements. Put the work in, see how your day goes and then try and evaluate it: ‘I did this well. I didn’t do this well.’ Try to build off that. Starting from Point A and working to where you want to be is a process. It doesn’t really happen overnight. You’re trying to build on little victories and start to climb back slowly. Then see what happens at the end of the year.”

On what he meant by “go underwater:”
“That means when you have a good day, you don’t really ride the high. When you have a bad day, you don’t get too low. It’s such a long season and there’s so many ups and downs, to have a good year takes a really long time. To have a bad year takes a really long time in baseball. You just kind of go underwater, put your work in, do the best you can, try to be the best version of yourself every day, and when the season’s over, you look up, you come out of the water and see what happened and where you stand. It takes a long time to learn that and it’s easy to say, but it’s hard to do. I’m trying to make an effort to do that this year and be the best version of myself.”

Who’s the Crew’s unlikeliest cyclist?

Of the eight players who have hit for the cycle in Brewers history, Yelich ranks among the most likely to have done it. Robin Yount (1988 against the White Sox) and Paul Molitor (’91 against the Twins) had all the tools to hit for a cycle themselves.

Then there are the unlikely cyclists, from Mike Hegan (1976 at Detroit; he hit only 18 triples in 12 years in the big leagues) to Chad Moeller (2004 against the Reds), Jody Gerut (’10 at Arizona) and George Kottaras (’11 at Houston). Who is the most unlikely? If career WAR is the measure, it’s Moeller, who owns a negative bWAR despite the fact he was employed by seven different teams over an 11-year Major League career. Moeller woke up the morning of his cycle batting exactly .200. Oh, and he was sick as a dog that day at Miller Park.

“My whole today was really just getting through nine innings behind the plate somehow, some way,” Moeller said. “If we would have gone extra, it would have been a real battle for me.”

Do you remember Moeller’s tough luck in the aftermath of his achievement? For years, Harley-Davidson sponsored a promotion that if a player hit for the cycle in a home game, he’d win a motorcycle. That promotion ended in 2003 … the year before Moeller’s cycle.

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