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Monday, October 21st 2019
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The Lost Ones: How Segura, Khris and Scooter have left their imprint away from Milwaukee

In recent weeks, I’ve been contemplating as to whether this article should excuse itself from eternal shuteye, and, therefore, come out. All it took was a few chyrons, frenzied tickers, and a collection of perusals in the daily newspaper, to not only see the Ruth-like season that rookie Aaron Judge has put together for the Bronx Bombers but also see how proliferative the stat lines have been for Cincinnati Reds utility man Scooter Gennett, Seattle Mariners second baseman Jean Segura and Oakland A’s leftfielder Khris Davis.

There was a time when the Milwaukee Brewers lineup didn’t boast top prospects (Lewis Brinson, Orlando Arica, and Brett Phillips), and one doesn’t have to scavenge too much to find it.

Before the seismic renovation to the Brewers organization, one that culminated in the coronating of a new general manager and included the abandonment of, nearly, any longish-tenured player at positions ripe with younger talent, Segura was looked at as an asset, Gennett a fan-favorite, and Davis a player who could swing a mean stick, despite his swing-and-miss rate, in the Brew City. Outwardly, this troika would cement their names on the Brewers’ lineup card for the next decade, well after the baggage and superstardom of Ryan Braun dissipated…, or so we in the Badger state thought.

But, how did the Brewers unload a slugger, Davis, who now ranks in his respective league top-10 in RBIs, top five with 17 round trippers this season? How about the on-base machine, Segura, who ranks second in the American League with .342 batting average? Finally, what about Gennett, who is less than a fortnight removed from hitting four homers and 10 (no, that’s not a typo) RBIs in one game? He is also on pace to shatter his personal season-high for combined Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in a season (1.1 this year; best is 2.2).

It all began with the rapid ascension of Segura, after his award-winning stint in the Dominican Winter League, following the 2012 season, and subsequent All-Star nod months later in his first full big-league season. The hardball cognoscenti thought that he was the straw that would stir the drink for Milwaukee, whose team, at that time were about a year removed from savoring champagne…almost.

Contention looked somewhat realistic after the Crew felt justified in Segura’s production, after acquiring him for Zack Grienke. In ’13, the young shortstop hit .294, swiped 44 bases and amassed 10 triples, all while buttressing the notion he was an above-average defender.

Below the surface, though, the Brewers had another tenderfoot at shortstop, Orlando Arcia, who was unearthing some gaudy flashes of leather as a member of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ Class A affiliate.

After being optioned to the Nashville Sounds (the Brewers’ then Triple-A affiliate) early on in his rookie season, Khris Davis took over in left field for the suspended Ryan Braun. His play was inspiring enough to oust Nori Aoki, who was eventually traded to Kansas City in 2014, from his everyday role. Davis’ success also made Braun switch fields, this time playing in right.

After spring training in 2014, Manager Ron Roenicke put second baseman Rickie Weeks in a platoon with Gennett, before deciding to the Gennett the upper hand and a cemented place in the starting lineup.

Gennett hit .289, found his niche as a responsible, versatile defender, and had innumerable fans baying over him, mostly due to his boyish charm and peculiar nickname.

The whole league was put on notice by the Brewers, a team spent that spent 131 days atop the NL Central, with a nucleus consisting of pitch-framing extraordinaire and dead-eye hitter Jonathan Lucroy; Khris Davis, who was becoming a very consistent power threat at the backend of the lineup; Braun; the comfortable Gennettl and Segura.

The Brewers, as had been the case since the turn of the millennium, found a path of turbulence, however, following the All-Star break. Ropes kept getting shorter in the abyss, and a 9-17 September placed them third in the division. Following 2014, unquestioned ace and all-time strikeout leader of the Brewers, Yovani Gallardo, was dealt to the Texas Rangers in exchange for reliever Corey Knebel, infielder Luis Sardiñas and pitching prospect Marcos Diplan.

In July 2015, the fire sale continued with another team in the Lone Star state — this time with the Astros — and the trade of centerfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers, both of whom were 29, was consummated. The Brewers were 14 games under .500 by the midsummer classic, plagued by inconsistent hitting, porous defense and a 4.28 team ERA (seventh worst in the majors) by season’s end. They finished fourth in the NL Central. That October, former assistant general manager of the Astros and sabermetric enthusiast, David Stearns, shed his assistant tag and darted to Milwaukee to become the team’s new general manager.

Segura was slumping — his batting average regressed in the two seasons following his All-Star campaign. His WAR was at an even zero – usually the output of a reserve. A change of scenery was necessary, as his age-25 season mucked the future. Remember that line about Segura being that straw that stirred the drink? The Brewers concluded they were better off chugging that drink, tossing the straw to the wolves (or, in this case, the Arizona Diamondbacks), and carrying on, specifically with trading players.

After parting with ways with Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, and all the aforementioned recent five-year legends who have graced the grass and dirt of Miller Park, the Brewers somehow find themselves in the conversation for the postseason, at least as of June 14. The continued success of former Brewers has been stunted, for the most part (discounting the unfair injury that took Prince Fielder’s career, of course); yet, Segura finished 13th in the NL MVP race for the lowly Diamondbacks last season. Khris Davis hit over 40 homers last year, to go with 100 RBIs. Gennett, statistically the least talented of the three, has still been a great fielder for Cincinnati.

Perhaps, the Brewers are great at scouting skilled players but the market (see the once-stalled Segura contract extensions) they’re in has shortchanged any potential for one to see a grassroots prospect climb the ladder of greatness, cleanly. Will Brinson, Phillips and the slew of acquired prospects rumbling under in the realm of A ball be worth the trade off?

Sadly, as is the case with all sports-related arguments and assertions, time will tell.

Brewers Draft Review: Day 1

More than 1/3 of the MLB season is now behind us, the All-Star Game is just about a month away (vote Brewers) and with the NBA Finals having come to an end, it is officially baseball’s time to shine. That began Monday, which brought with it the first day of the 2017 MLB Draft. The second draft for Brewers GM David Stearns began with a heavily offensive minded first day.

Round 1 (9th overall): Keston Hiura, 2B, University of California-Irvine

Slot Value: $4,570,000

Physical Tools: 6’0”, 180 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #22 by MLB.com, #20 by Baseball America, #15 by Minor League Ball

Grade Tools (All by MLBPipeline; based on 20-80 scale): Hit 60  Power 50  Run 50  Arm 45  Field 45 Overall 50

Last Season Stats: .442/.567/.693, 199 AB, 88 H, 24 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 9 SB

Strengths: Contact Hitting, Great discipline at the plate (38 K to 50 BB), Quick/compact swing that finds the ball easily with underrated power

Weaknesses: Fielding/Arm Strength (both 45 graded), possible durability issues (elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery)

Analysis: After watching film on Hiura, I was very impressed by his swing and hitting ability. Some scouts have rated his hitting as high as 70 on the 20-80 scale and say that his bat is close to Major League ready. The concerns with his elbow may have turned some off to him in the draft, but David Stearns seemingly feels that Hiura can be a strong asset for the Brewers in the future, if not just as a potentially great bat.

Competitive Balance Round A (34th overall): Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin High School (TX)

Slot Value: $1,983,600

Physical Tools: 6’3”, 210 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #34 by MLB.com, #62 by Baseball America, #42 by Minor League Ball

Tool Grades: Hit 50  Power 55  Run 50  Arm 60  Field 55

Stats not found as of writing

Strengths: Good body/physical tools, great arm, versatility (played multiple outfield positions in high school)

Weaknesses: Less of a power hitter than contact hitter, not the best runner for the outfield position

Analysis: A prospect with varying rankings prior to the draft, Lutz will bring a raw power bat and a strong arm to the Brewers system. In a system that is loaded with outfielders, he may need to wait longer than he may like to reach the Major League level, his tool grades provide a reason to believe he can be very successful. A great baseball body along with being just 18 years old out of high school (19 in August), look for Tristen Lutz to potentially make a quick rise up the Brewers minor league ranks.

Round 2 (46th overall): Caden Lemons, RHP, Vestavia Hills High School (AL)

Slot Value: $1,493,500

Physical Tools: 6’6”, 175 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #77 by MLB.com, #57 by Baseball America, #70 by Minor League Ball

Tool Grades: Fastball 65  Slider 50  Curveball 45  Changeup 50  Control 45  Overall 45

Stats not found as of writing

Strengths: Tall at 6’6”, plus fastball which can top out at 97 MPH, great potential if fulfilled

Weaknesses: Lanky frame, inconsistent form, sometimes weak command due to form, average-to-above-average second pitches

Analysis: Lemons’ lanky frame and solid pitch arsenal bring similar comparisons to recent Brewers call-up Josh Hader. If he is able to put some more muscle on his frame and gain a solid amount of weight, he may be able to reach triple digits and make his fastball even more of an asset for him. However, like Hader, he is going to need to improve his command if he is going to be successful. Will he be successful? Well, we can only hope he follows in the footsteps of last year’s #46 pick, Lucas Erceg in that department.

Brewers Week In Review: 6/5-6/11

6/5-6/8: vs. San Francisco Giants

Record: 2-2

Results: 7-2 L, 5-2 W, 6-3 W, 9-5 L

Star of the Series: Eric Sogard (7-for-13 (.538), 3 RBI)

Just as in the Dodgers series, many Brewers fans would have likely been happy with a split against the San Francisco Giants in this series. However, with the combination of Milwaukee in first place, the Giants coming in near the bottom of the NL West and the Crew avoiding Madison Bumgarner (injury), a series win was definitely within reach and easier to come by than usual against this team. Junior Guerra had another solid start since his return in game one, only allowing 1 earned run over 5 innings. However, the bullpen let the game slip away, as 5 runs over the final two innings sealed the Crew’s fate in the 7-2 loss. That same bullpen also left fans at Miller Park with a scare the next night, as the Giants scored two runs in the 9th inning off of Carlos Torres and had runners on first and second with nobody out before Corey Knebel came in and finished the job.

6/9-6/11: @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 1-2

Results: 8-6 W, 3-2 L, 11-1 L

Star of the Series: Hernan Perez (3-for-11 (.273), 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB)

Exactly two weeks after the Diamondbacks came to town in late May, Milwaukee traveled to Chase Field for a weekend 3-game set in Phoenix. Playing in one of the best hitter’s parks in MLB, the Brewers were relatively shut down. After an 8-run, 14-hit performance in game 1, they tallied a total of 3 runs and 6 hits in the next two games behind pitching gems by Arizona starters Zack Godley and Robbie Ray. Hernan Perez added two home runs to his season total, which now stands at 9. The bullpen also continued to struggle, giving up 9 hits and 10 runs in just 2 innings on Sunday. However, this series provided a glimpse into the future, as both top pitching prospect Josh Hader and top hitting prospect Lewis Brinson made their much anticipated Major League debuts.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 6/12/17)

  1. Milwaukee Brewers: 33-31
  2. Chicago Cubs: 31-31 1 GB
  3. Louis Cardinals: 29-32 2.5 GB
  4. Cincinnati Reds: 29-33 3 GB
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 28-35 4.5 GB

Transactions

6/5: Boston Red sox trade SS Yeison Coca to Brewers; Placed 3B Travis Shaw on paternity list; Recalled CF Brett Phillips from AAA Colorado Springs

6/7: Activated 3B Travis Shaw from paternity list; Placed Matt Garza on 10-day DL (chest contusion)

6/8: Optioned CF Brett Phillips to AAA Colorado Springs; Recalled RHP Paolo Espino from AAA Colorado Springs

6/9: Placed 3B Travis Shaw on bereavement list; Brett Phillips assigned to Milwaukee from AAA Colorado Springs; Recalled LHP Josh Hader from AAA Colorado Springs; Optioned RHP Paolo Espino to AAA Colorado Springs

6/10: Recalled OF Lewis Brinson from AAA Colorado Springs; Placed 2B Jonathan Villar on 10-day DL (lower back strain)

Breakout Brewers: Chase Anderson

Chase Anderson has proven to be more than a pleasant surprise in 2017 – he has been a god-send for a Brewers pitching staff that has at times appeared futile. Acquired along with prospect Isan Diaz and MLB infielder Aaron Hill during the off-season, Anderson was inserted into the starting rotation. He had an up-and-down season, finishing with a 9-11 record, a 4.31 ERA, and a 1.37 WHIP. Advanced metrics rated Anderson’s performance as that of a below average starting pitcher, displayed by his 1.1 WAR (wins above replacement) and his 98 ERA+ (100 is league average).

Brewers Week In Review: 5/29-6/4

5/29-6/1: @ New York Mets

Record: 2-2

Results: 4-2 L, 5-4 L (12 innings), 7-1 W, 2-1 W

Star of the Series: Corey Knebel (2.1 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 SV)

Coming off of a back and forth series with Arizona prior to arriving in New York for a brief road trip with the Mets, the Brewers were looking for a good series in order to hold on to their first place lead in the division. However, the first two games of the series did not quite go as planned. Four earned runs from Matt Garza sealed the Crew’s fate in the opener, and the Brewers lost a 12-inning heartbreaker the next night, a game which saw chances for both teams in later innings be squandered. The offense saw its pop return in the 7-1 win, with home runs by Thames and Domingo Santana leading the charge. Finally, series star Knebel shut the Mets down in the series’ final affair with two strikeouts on the way to his 4th save of the season since taking over the closer’s role.

6/2-6/4: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 1-2

Results: 2-1 L (12 innings), 10-8 L, 3-0 W

Another day, another series in which the Brewers bullpen gives up leads. In this case, it seemingly cost them the series win as a whole. In many ways, this series was quite similar to the Mets series just days earlier. A loss in 12 innings? Check; Game lost by two runs with a majority of runs scored in only a few innings? Check; Third game where home runs by Thames and Santana led to the victory? Check. Now, if you had told Brewers fans that they would play a close, 2-1 series loss against one of the best current teams in baseball, many of those fans would have been quite happy with that. However, also knowing that Milwaukee was just a few pitches away from possibly sweeping that same team in the series, not so much.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 6/5/17)

  1. Milwaukee Brewers: 30-27
  2. Chicago Cubs: 28-27 1 GB
  3. Louis Cardinals: 26-28 2.5 GB
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 26-31 4.0 GB
  5. Cincinnati Reds: 25-30 4.0 GB

Transactions

No major transactions occurred this week

Brewers’ Minor League Review: April/May

Through two months of baseball, it is clear that the Brewers’ rebuilding project is moving along quite nicely. Cumulatively, Brewers’ minor league affiliates possess the 7th best winning percentage among all MLB teams, and house several players that profile as future big league talent while turning in excellent performances. The Brewers’ minor league system has not garnered this much attention since stars like Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun were coming through the ranks. Let’s look at what each affiliate has done through the first two months of the season.

King of the Diamond- Week of 5/22

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers had a rough beginning this past week, losing five games in a row that began last Sunday. They saw their division lead evaporate, and needed to stop the bleeding in order to remain atop the NL Central.

King of the Diamond- Chase Anderson

Image result for chase anderson brewersChase Anderson picks up his first King of the Diamond award after a stellar performance that snapped Milwaukee’s five game losing streak. So far this season, Anderson has been rather average, earning a decision in just four out of ten starts this year. Saturday appeared to erase all of this, as Anderson failed to allow a hit through seven strong before a lead-off single in the eighth ended his hopes for a no-hitter. Despite Anderson coming up just short of what would have been the MLB’s first no-no this season, he picked up the much needed win with seven strong innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eleven. Milwaukee picked up another win Sunday afternoon to end the week on a high note.

King of the Diamond- Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

Image result for zack cozart

The NL Central continues to be the most competitive division in all of baseball, with all five teams separated by a mere four games. The Reds are fourth in the division but are just two-and-a-half games behind the Brewers for the division lead. Reds shortstop Zack Cozart earns our divisional King of the Diamond award this week. He has been a pleasant surprise for Cincinnati this season and currently holds an eleven-game hit streak and has recorded a hit in 19 of his last 20 games played. Cozart has been on an offensive onslaught all season long and could be a valuable trade asset should the Cincinnati become active in the trade market.

Brewers draft slots provide look into possible future

The 2017 MLB Draft is just around the corner, as it kicks off on June 12th with rounds 1 and 2 as well as Competitive Balance Rounds A and B. On Day 1, the Brewers will hold picks 9, 34 and 46. Now, with a pick as high as #9, one may expect a large amount of future All-Stars and possibly even some hall of famers, right? After all, the draft has been held since 1965, and while it is true that there has been some success with players at #9, it’s not as much as you may think. In total, only eight players drafted in that slot have even played in at least one All-Star game. Those players are:

Barry Zito: Selected #9 by Oakland Athletics in 1999 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 165-143, 4.04 ERA, 2576.2 IP, 1885 K, 1064 BB, 32.5 WAR
  • Resume: 3x All-Star (’02, ’03, ’06); Cy Young Winner (’02); WS Title with San Francisco Giants in 2012
  • Best Season: 2002 (23-5, 2.75 ERA, 229.1 IP, 182 K, 78 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2001 (17-8, 3.49 ERA, 214.1 IP, 205 K, 80 BB)

Michael Cuddyer: Selected #9 by Minnesota Twins in 1997 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: .277 average, 1522 hits, 197 HR, 794 RBI, 16.6 WAR
  • Resume: 2x All-Star (’11, ’13); NL Silver Slugger (’13); NL Batting Title (’13; .331 average)
  • Best Season: 2013 (.331, 31 2B, 20 HR, 84 RBI)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2006 (.284, 41 2B, 24 HR, 109 RBI)

Preston Wilson: Selected #9 by New York Mets in 1992 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: .264 average, 1055 hits, 189 HR, 668 RBI, 6.3 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (’03); WS Title with St. Louis Cardinals in 2006
  • Best Season: 2003 (.282, 43 2B, 36 HR, 141 RBI)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2000 (.264, 35 2B, 31 HR, 121 RBI, 36 SB)

Kevin Appier: Selected #9 by Kansas City Royals in 1987 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 169-137, 3.74 ERA, 2595.1 IP, 1994 K, 933 BB, 54.9 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (’95); AL ERA Title (’93; 2.56 ERA); WS Title with Los Angeles Angels in 2002
  • Best Season: 1993 (18-8, 2.56 ERA, 238.2 IP, 186 K, 81 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1992 (15.8, 2.46 ERA, 208.1 IP, 150 K, 68 BB)

Duane Ward

  • Career Stats: 32-37, 3.28 ERA, 121 SV, 666.2 IP, 679 K, 286 BB, 10.5 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (’93); WS Titles with Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993
  • Best Season: 1993 (2-3, 2.13 ERA, 45 SV, 71.2 IP, 97 K, 25 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1992 (7-4, 1.95 ERA, 12 SV, 101.1 IP, 103 K, 39 BB)

Ron Darling: Selected #9 by Texas Rangers in 1981 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 136-116, 3.87 ERA, 2360.1 IP, 1590 K, 906 BB, 20.1 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (’85); NL Gold Glove at P (’89); WS Title with New York Mets in 1986
  • Best Season: 1986 (15-6, 2.81 ERA, 237.0 IP, 184 K, 81 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1985 (16-6, 2.90 ERA, 248.0 IP, 167 K, 114 BB)

Don Stanhouse: Selected #9 by Oakland Athletics in 1969 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 38-54, 3.84 ERA, 760.1 IP, 408 K, 455 BB, 5.9 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (’79)
  • Best Season: 1979 (7-3, 2.85 ERA, 21 SV, 72.2 IP, 34 K, 51 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1988 (6-9, 2.89 ERA, 24 SV, 74.2 IP, 42 K, 52 BB)

In addition, those selected with the 34th and 46th picks have also seen some success, as well as a high amount of name recognition, one of whom is among the best at his position of his generation.

Aaron Sanchez: Selected #34 by Toronto Blue Jays in 2010 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats (active): 24-11, 2.90 ERA, 341.2 IP, 267 K, 125 BB, 8.6 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (2016), AL ERA Title (2016; 3.00 ERA)
  • Best Season: 2016 (15-2, 3.00 ERA, 192.0 IP, 161 K, 63 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: N/A (Too early)

Todd Frazier: Selected #34 by Cincinnati Reds in 2007 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats (active): .248 average, 744 hits, 153 HR, 441 RBI, 19.3 WAR
  • Resume: 2x All-Star (2014, 2015)
  • Best Season: 2014 (.273, 29 HR, 80 RBI, 20 SB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2015 (.255, 43 2B, 35 HR, 89 RBI, 13 SB)

Arthur Rhodes: Selected #34 by Baltimore Orioles in 1988 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 87-70, 4.08 ERA, 1187.2 IP, 1152 K, 516 BB, 15.5 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (2010); 2011 WS Title with St. Louis Cardinals
  • Best Season: 2002 (10-4, 2.33 ERA, 69.2 IP, 81 K, 13 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2010 (4-4, 2.29 ERA, 55 IP, 50 K, 18 BB)

Mark Gubicza: Selected #34 by Kansas City Royals in 1981 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: 132-136, 3.96 ERA, 2223.1 IP, 1371 K, 786 BB, 37.8 WAR
  • Resume: 2x All-Star (1988, 1989)
  • Best Season: 1988 (20-8, 2.70 ERA, 269.2 IP, 183 K, 83 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1989 (15-11, 3.04 ERA, 255.0 IP, 173 K, 63 BB)

Yovani Gallardo: Selected #46 by Milwaukee Brewers in 2004 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats (active): 110-87, 3.85 ERA, 1641.0 IP, 1468 K, 622 BB, 23.0 WAR
  • Resume: 1x All-Star (2010); NL P Silver Slugger (2010)
  • Best Season: 2011 (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207.1 IP, 207 K, 59 BB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2010 (14-7, 3.84 ERA, 185.0 IP, 200 K, 75 BB)

Jimmy Rollins: Selected #46 by Philadelphia Phillies in 1996 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: .264 average, 2,455 hits, 231 HR, 936 RBI, 46.0 WAR
  • Resume: 3x All-Star (2001, 2002, 2005); NL MVP (2007); 2008 WS Title with Philadelphia
  • Best Season: 2007 (.296, 38 2B, 20 3B, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 41 SB)
  • 2nd Best Season: 2006 (.277, 45 2B, 9 3B, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 36 SB)

Scott Rolen: Selected #46 by Philadelphia Phillies in 1993 MLB Draft

  • Career Stats: .281 average, 2,077 hits, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 70.0 WAR
  • Resume: 7x All-Star (2002, 2003-2006, 2010-2011); 1997 NL Rookie of the Year; 8 NL Gold Gloves (1998, 2000-2004, 2006, 2010); NL 3B Silver Slugger (2002)
  • Best Season: 2004 (.314, 32 2B, 34 HR, 124 RBI)
  • 2nd Best Season: 1998 (.290, 45 2B, 31 HR, 110 RBI, 14 SB)

 

Travis Shaw: The Mayor of Ding Dong City

Milwaukee has gladly welcomed Travis Shaw with open arms in 2017, his first season with the Crew. Affectionately nicknamed “The Mayor of Ding Dong City” due to his moonshot home runs, Shaw is an extremely likable player and exudes professionalism on all fronts. So, how exactly did Milwaukee become lucky enough to have his services?

After a promising 2015 rookie campaign, Travis Shaw looked like the Boston Red Sox third baseman of the future. He had hit 13 home runs with an OPS of .813 in just 65 games, putting him on pace for a 30+ home run season had he played the full year.

However, 2016 in Beantown did not bode as well for Shaw. Struggles at the plate pushed him out of favor by the end of the year, and he only garnered two at bats in the postseason for the Sox after amassing 480 over 145 games during the regular season. With his position in the organization marred by uncertainty following his disappointing performance at the plate (.242/.306/.421), Shaw became expendable.

This expendability led to him becoming the centerpiece of the Brewers’ return in dealing stud reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox, with the Brewers receiving prospect Mauricio Dubon as well. Shaw fits the Brewers’ narrative in acquiring young, controllable talent, as he does not face free agency until after the 2022 season. Equally important, the Brewers had a gaping hole at third base following the trade of Aaron Hill during the 2016 season; Jonathan Villar’s extended trial at the position during the latter part of the season displayed that he did not possess the necessary defense to succeed there, and Hernan Perez seemed to be better suited for a super utility role. Enter: Travis Shaw.

Milwaukee presented the perfect opportunity for Shaw. After playing in Boston with a log jam of third basemen behind him threatening to supplant him at any moment, including top MLB prospect Yoan Moncada, Milwaukee’s lack of third basemen in the organization provided little in the way of uncertainty for Shaw. The job was his upon arrival, and would stay that way unless he failed his way out of a lineup spot. The worst-case scenario in this low-risk/high-reward acquisition would be that Shaw serves as a serviceable stop gap until the farm system develops a high-level third baseman. The best-case scenario, which looks to be the case, is that Shaw develops into a piece to build around in the Brewers’ future.

Thus far, Shaw has performed tremendously. He has solidified the middle of the lineup by leading the Brewers in RBIs (34) and hitting for a high average (.290), playing a huge role in the Brewers’ surprisingly elite offense thus far in the season. This production definitely could have resulted from the presumed confidence the Brewers have in Shaw, with him being the only true third baseman on the roster. More likely, this success is due to changes Shaw has made to his approach at the plate. To illustrate, Shaw has excelled from a sabermetric standpoint thus far in the season. He has cut his fly ball percentage by 27%, dropping from 45% in 2016 to 28% in 2017. This has translated to more meaningful contact, as 82.9% of his balls in play this year are classified as medium or hard contact in comparison to 78% last year. Hard contact translates into offensive potency, and that certainly has been the case for Shaw. Shaw’s OPS of .882 displays the straightforward output resulting from these improvements.

In addition to his bat, Shaw provides adequate defense at the hot corner. He possesses a strong arm, and although he looks a little stiff and athletically limited at times, he makes all the routine plays and will surprise you with a web gem every now and then. For Brewers’ fans reference, he falls somewhere on the spectrum between Aramis Ramirez (excellent) and Juan Francisco (atrocious).

Due to all of these factors, Shaw looks to have a relatively stable future in Milwaukee. Lucas Erceg, the Brewers’ presumed third baseman of the future, currently resides in Class-A Advanced. Erceg possesses a very comparable offensive skill set to Shaw, but it will be at least two years until he is ready for the MLB level, especially given his early season struggles in the minors. The only legitimate threat besides Erceg to Shaw would be current second baseman Jonathan Villar if he were forced off his spot at second base due to the call-up of a high tier minor league prospect like Isan Diaz or Mauricio Dubon. Even if this situation did come to fruition, Shaw offers a better offensive profile for third base, and his defense suits the position much better due to his strong arm and Villar’s awful defense at the hot corner during August and September of 2016.

Become familiar with the name “Travis Shaw”, Milwaukee; I have the feeling that we are going to be hearing it a lot for the foreseeable future.

King of the Diamond- Week of 5/15

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers finished with another strong week, going 4-2 on the road against the Cubs and Padres. Milwaukee is now atop the NL Central and one player has been crucial to their recent success.

King of the Diamond- Eric Sogard

Image result for eric sogard

Sogard was a pleasant surprise for the crew this week. After being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs, the utility man went on a tear at the plate, hitting 10 for 20 while filling in for the injured Ryan Braun. The veteran added five runs, five RBI’s and three doubles in this span. Brewers manager Craig Counsell would be wise to find Sogard some playing time in the future despite Ryan Braun’s return from the disabled list.

King of the Diamond- Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates

Image result for adam frazier pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates remain at the bottom of the division, but their 4-3 week appears to have gotten them back on track. Frazier was a big part of this, shelling opposing pitchers all week long. Frazier had at least one hit in the six games he started in, and had at least two hits in five of those six. He added seven RBI’s in the process and continues to show no signs of pain from the hamstring injury that landed him on the disabled list last month.