Mike Yastrzemski, A Diamond in the Rough

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Everyone may not know who Mike Yastrzemski is. As a result, some only know him as the slugging right fielder for the San Francisco Giants who broke onto the big-league scene in 2019. To others, he is the grandson of legendary Boston Red Sox Hall Of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski. And, of course, some just have no idea who he is.

Born in Andover, MA, Mike Yastrzemski was drafted in the 14th round out of Vanderbilt University by the Baltimore Orioles, in 2013. Yastrzemski batted .300 with 120 RBI and 11 homers in his three years at the university. Yaz shined both on the field and academically, filling his trophy case with respectable hardware.

• 2013 First Team All-SEC
• 2013 SEC All-Defensive Team
• 2013 NCBWA Third Team All-American
• 2013 ABCA Second Team All-South Region
• 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll
• 2012 SEC All-Tournament Team
• 2012 SEC Academic Honor Roll
• 2011 SEC Academic Honor Roll

How did Mike Yastrzemski land on Vanderbilt University? Yaz felt that the school offered the best combination of athletics and academics. Two significant categories in which Yaz shined during his three-year stint with the school.

Known as Yaz by Giants fans, Mike Yastrzemski has all but become a household name in San Francisco. Equivalent to hitting the bonus after hesitantly slamming the max bet button in video poker at the casino, the Giants acquired Yaz in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Tyler Herb. If you don’t know who Tyler Herb is, don’t rack your brain because Herb never reached the show. A very one-sided trade in favor of the San Francisco Giants.

Trading prospects is always a gamble, and trades like this happen. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But don’t forget: the Giants traded away a young Luis Castillo to the Miami Marlins back in 2014. Deals to acquire talent such as Yastrzemski get fans excited, and deals that send away talent like Castillo will keep you humble.

Mike Yastrzemski: Off the Field

A Massachusetts kid, Yaz grew up a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. Rightfully so, being the grandson to the great Carl Yastrzemski. It was a strong baseball upbringing for Yaz, as his father also played baseball in the minor leagues from 1984-1988. Yaz had the opportunity to jump on the path set for him by his grandfather in 2009 because “little Yaz” was initially drafted by the Red Sox in 2009. Ultimately, he elected to attend Vanderbilt.

In a baseball family, Yastrzemski’s first sports love was hockey. In an interview on “Catchin up,” a San Francisco Giants Youtube show, Yaz admitted to hockey being his favorite sport as a kid. The hockey dream was short-lived. Because, as said by Yastrzemski himself, “I was better at baseball.”

Unless an opportunity arises to co-star in a movie with his favorite actor Mark Walberg, it appears to be all sports for Yastrzemski. Claiming that if he weren’t a professional baseball player, he would be a pro golfer. Golf, along with surfing, are among his favorite things to do in the offseason.

A Special Moment for the Yastrzemski Family

Yaz made his Fenway Park debut as a rookie in 2019. The Yastrzemski family was honored, and Red Sox fans treated to the grandfather-grandson duo throwing out the ceremonial first pitch together before the game. If that moment were not chilling enough, the fireworks would continue momentarily.

In an interview before the game, Mike Yastrzemski said,

“I don’t get wrapped up in moments very easily. You train to step into the box and shut out all of the noise and shut out the situation and just do your job. But I think in that moment, I think I am going to need to step away and just appreciate it and maybe let myself get wrapped up in that one moment.”

In the top of the 4th inning, Yastrzemski stepped to the plate to face pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. The count was 3-1. Eovaldi challenged Yaz up in the zone with a fastball. Challenge accepted. Yaz turned on the fastball, sending it deep over the center-field wall for his 20th home run of the year. Now, what usually happens when an opposing player hits a home run in Fenway Park? The answer isn’t a standing ovation, usually. However, in this case, the cheers from Red Sox fans filled the park in Boston.

It was a special moment for the Yastrzemski family, a special moment for Boston, and a special moment for baseball fans. It was one of those few moments in professional sports where the emotion of a moment outweighs the value of a win or a loss.

Mike Yastrzemski 2021

It has not been a good start to 2021. In 16 games, Yaz has hit two home runs while striking out 22 times. His .175 batting average is turning heads, but for all of the wrong reasons. At the end of Spring Training, a pitch struck Yastremski on the hand in a game vs. the Oakland Athletics. This looked to be a feasible excuse for his struggles early on. However, the struggles have continued.

Yastrzemski holds a ground ball percentage of 51.4% on batted balls and a strikeout percentage of 34.4%. Now, feel free to say it in your best Yoda voice, “MVP numbers, those are not.” Yaz has not seen the ball well and isn’t being patient enough at the plate. One can only hope to see Yaz get back on track because the Giants offense as a whole has struggled this year. Furthermore, with last year’s offensive leader having these struggles, adjustments need to be made ASAP.



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Players Mentioned:

Mike Yastrzemski, Carl Yastrzemski, Tyler Herb, Luis Castillo, Nathan Eovaldi