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Wednesday, December 12th 2018
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Christian Yelich: an MVP Season

When the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins, Brewers fans everywhere went crazy. Yelich, now 26, is a former Gold Glover, who has batted .300 in a season already in his young career, but most importantly for David Sterns, he has 5 years of controllability.

It was safe to assume that the Brewers had found one of their outfielders for the future, but no one expected a 2018 season like this. Going into 2018, Christian’s career high for home runs was just 21, and his career best in a season in batting was .300, with a .859 OPS. All good to great numbers for the type of player he is, and if he would have done that this season, I think Brewers fans everywhere would be damn happy about that.

As of today, Christian Yelich has 31 dingers, 93 RBI’s, a .318 batting average, with a .995 OPS, oh and 2 cycles on the season. Combine this with web gem after web gem, it is no wonder why Yeli is in the MVP conversation in the National League.

via images.google.com

I know there are a couple other candidates that stack up well against Yelich, Javi Baez has certainly dazzled, as has Nolan Arenado in Colorado, and Freddie Freeman has been fantastic all year but I think if there is an edge to give as of today, Yelich gets the nod.

Some of the knocks I have been hearing by analysts the last few days are, “he’s just had a good second half” *cough Cubs fan Michael Wilbon* I think this argument is just ridiculous, last time I checked the MVP race is a year long award, and if anything, that makes his case even stronger, he was able to grab the national attention in half a season.

Another good counter to Yelich is “Arenado is also a Gold Glove defensive third baseman”- which is 100% true. I am confident in saying Arenado is one of the best defensive third basemen of all time, if not the best. But, you cannot say Yelich isn’t a gold glove candidate in his own right, first off, he’s won a gold glove already, and he has made play after play in the Milwaukee outfield this season, all while flip flopping from right to left all season long! Baez also works for this argument, he is amazing with the leather, but again, so is Yelich!

via images.google.com

The latest odds I can see on Odd Shark have Freddie Freeman as the favorite (dated 9/9/18), which is one of the million examples of why the Brewers are always under the radar as a small market team. Yelich beats Freeman in every batting category outside of doubles(8 more) and he has played 15 less games than Freeman. Yelich has simply had a better year, stats do not lie.

His ranks in the NL as of today, 9/18 are the following:

  • 1st in slugging
  • 1st in OPS
  • T-1st in batting, .318 (Scooter Gennet)
  • 10th in Home runs (31)- 4 back
  • T-7th in RBI’s (93)- 12 back
  • 4th in WAR 5.7 (Lo Cain 1st 6.7)
  • 3rd in Runs (102)- 6 back
  • 5th in hits (170)- 9 back

When you stack up the numbers of all of the canidates, Yelich is the clear cut winner, but as the season winds down, we will see who stands tall and wins the 2018 NL MVP award.

 

 

Hey Chicago! The Brewers Are Coming…

Every series matters at this point in the season for a baseball team. On Monday, the Brewers started a series against the Cubs where they proceeded to win, 3-2. The second game did not go Milwaukee’s way as they could not develop a rhythm against Jose Quintana and lost, 3-0.  Wednesday, the last game of the series, the Brewers recorded 5 runs on 11 hits and won, 5-1. After the Brewers beat the Cubs Wednesday night, Chicago pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, had some words to say about the Crew.

“They’re definitely coming for us. We can feel it.”

As of Thursday night the Brewers are 1.5 games back of the first place Cubs and have their eyes set on the division title. The Brewers have not won the NL Central since 2011 and are in prime position to take over as the top team. For the remainder of Milwaukee’s schedule, they play teams with a combined winning percentage of .471. The rest of the regular season is manageable but it is an uphill battle. However, it is a battle Milwaukee intends on winning.

Curtis Granderson has been great, with a BA of .455 and an OBP of .647 since being acquired by the Brewers on August 31st. (Photo by Morry Gash)

After a day off Thursday, the Brewers continue their chase Friday night (7:10 CT) against the Pirates as newly acquired, Gio Gonzalez, takes on 2x all-star, Chris Archer.

*All stats and interview, found on espn.com, accurate as of 7:05 pm (ct) on 9/13/18*

How Have the Newest Brewers Performed Since Their Arrival?

20 games over .500 and firmly in playoff position is where the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in the season’s final month. The team’s structure and roster, though, is much different than it was on Opening Day all the way back in late March. There have been key contributors coming up from the minor leagues like Corbin Burnes, as well as trade acquisitions in Jonathan Schoop, Mike Moustakas, and Joakim Soria, among others. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of how those new Brewers have helped, or hurt, Milwaukee’s postseason push.

1. Mike Moustakas

I, along with many Brewers fans was dumbfounded initially by this move by David Stearns that sent Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez to Kansas City for lefty slugger Mike Moustakas. The confusion stemmed from the fact that Milwaukee already had a more than capable third baseman in Travis Shaw. The supposed logjam figured itself out though, and Moustakas has been a huge addition. He has hit 5 home runs for the Crew and has driven in 23 runs across 37 games, and played a solid third base defensively. In addition to his offensive and defensive prowess, the Moose’s experience of playing in two World Series with the Royals and winning one, could prove to be important to a relatively inexperienced Brewers team.

2. Joakim Soria

Former Chicago White Sox closer Joakim Soria has been unspectacular in his brief Brewers tenure, however his struggles are not to the point where he is not trusted by Craig Counsell in high-leverage, late-inning scenarios. The 34 year old has appeared in 16 games, has allowed 13 earned runs, and owns a WHIP of 1.35. Part of why he has not been great thus far is likely due to the quad injury he suffered on August 9th against the Padres. There is certainly room for improvement going forward.

3. Jonathan Schoop

Brewers players and fans erupt after Jonathan Schoop’s Grand Slam Sunday

2018 has been up and down for Schoop as a member of both the Brewers and Orioles, however he is getting hot at the right time for his new squad. He was responsible for a memorable moment last Sunday at Miller Park, hitting a go-ahead grand slam off of Madison Bumgarner just mere moments after Craig Counsell was ejected from the game. The early returns on Schoop were awful. It took him weeks to look comfortable at the plate in his new threads. But since the end of August, he has been a valued contributor and is looking like the player the Brewers thought they were getting at the July 31st trade deadline.

Since those three large scale acquisitions, the Brewers front office has added additional veteran players Xavier Cedeno, Curtis Granderson, and Gio Gonzalez. Those three could prove to be pivotal in their own right, however the sample size is too small at this point to dig too deep into it. As stated previously, the Brewers roster makeup is very different and considerably better than it was on Opening Day, and it is unlikely the team would be in the favorable position it is in now in terms of playoff positioning without the midseason additions and subtractions that have been made.

Exactly What The Doctor Ordered

It is no secret that second baseman, Jonathan Schoop, has struggled ever since he became a Brewer. However, in last night’s rout against the Cubs, Schoop had the game he desperately needed. Before last night, in 79 ABs, Schoop was batting .215 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, and 23 SOs. This is obviously not what Milwaukee acquired him to do. Schoop came in the game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning and was thrown into a position where he had to perform.

In his first AB, with runners in scoring position, Schoop hit a deep sac fly to right field that was caught on the warning track. The ball was mere feet away from being a homerun. Schoop stayed in the game defensively and got another chance at the plate. In his second AB, Schoop smoked a 2-run single to left field. In 2 ABs, Schoop had 3 RBIs and displayed power to both sides of the field. Even with a productive night at the plate, Schoop’s best play came as the final out in the 9th inning. With 2 outs and Matt Albers pitching, a ball was smashed in between first and second. Schoop (who was playing second base and shaded up the middle) broke towards the ball and made a spectacular diving stop then threw the batter out from his knees.

For a player who has been struggling as much as Jonathan Schoop, this is exactly the kind of game that can get a player out of a slump.

A Rare Miss for David Stearns: the Matt Albers and Boone Logan Saga

David Stearns deserves a lot of credit for getting the Brewers back to contending status in such a short period of time. After taking the GM reins in September of 2015, Stearns had a large rebuilding project on his hands given the steps back that many Brewers’ MLB-level assets had taken (e.g. Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett) and the lack of significant talent in the minor-league system. He returned the team to playoff contention in under two years, and has them charging towards the postseason again in 2018. With the Brewers currently sitting 2.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the second wild-card spot, their playoff hopes are optimistic.

The 2018 offseason saw Stearns make some big moves that improved the overall trajectory of the club. He acquired Christian Yelich via trade, while nabbing Lorenzo Cain and Jhoulys Chacin as free agents. However, there was one area that he failed to successfully address that has hurt the Brewers as of late – the bullpen.

The Brewers lost two significant bullpen pieces when Anthony Swarzak left in free agency and the club decided to not tender Jared Hughes a contract. Both were productive relievers, and Swarzak especially had the skill and moxie to compete in high leverage situation. This created a situation where additional pitchers were needed to bolster the backend of a group that was led by Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress.

Stearns’ solution was to pursue overlooked and therefore cheaper options than many of the more prevalent names on the market. While seemingly “elite” options Greg Holland, Bryan Shaw, and Wade Davis were out of the question, the next tier of relievers offered many viable impact options for David Stearns to target. Among those available (with their eventual club) were: Steve Cishek (Cubs), Tommy Hunter (Phillies), Mike Minor (Rangers, signed with intention of switching back to being a starting pitcher), Pat Neshek (Phillies), Yusmeiro Petit (Athletics), Joe Smith (Astros), and the aforementioned Anthony Swarzak (Mets). In the cases of all these players, either their prices were deemed to be either too high or the club was not interested in their services.

All of those players commanded contracts of at least $5 million annually, with most being multi-year guaranteed deals. Stearns’ aversion to multi-year deals for relievers is understandable – relief pitchers’ performances tend to be relatively volatile from year-to-year. The issue comes with the outcome of his solution, which was the signings of Boone Logan and Matt Albers.

It’s perfectly safe to say both signings have turned out poorly for the Brewers. After starting the season on the DL, Logan only lasted 10 innings over 16 appearances before being shown the door, pitching to a 5.91 ERA and contributing directly to multiple losses. Albers was a different case, as he started the season on fire with a 1.08 through 25 innings pitched in April and May. However, the wheels fell off when the calendar turned to June, as he allowed runs in consecutive appearances against the White Sox before having a truly disastrous outing against the Chicago Cubs that saw him give up 5 runs in just 2/3 of an inning. He landed on the DL after that game, and upon returning in late July his performance brought much of the same. In his first four outings back, he gave up 3, 2, 3 and 2 eared runs respectively, managing to cover only 1 and 2/3 innings. In fact, since his return from the DL, he has had only one scoreless appearance, and that was one in which he only faced a single batter.

In games where the Brewers necessitate the usage of Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, it generally leaves the bullpen without a reliable option for the following day given Craig Counsell’s bullpen management strategy. It becomes even more prevalent given the many games in which the Brewers have had to lean on their bullpen for 4+ innings due to short starts. These are games where the Brewers could benefit greatly from having signed one of the previously-mentioned options this past offseason.

Some factors for the bullpen’s recent failures are out of Stearns’ control. Corey Knebel realistically could not have been expected to require a demotion to the minor leagues, and the performances of Albers and Logan have been on the bottom end of the probability spectrum for their predicted performances. However, when things do go wrong (as they have this season), the same question will always pop up: Was enough done to prevent it?

Based on the Brewers’ recent moves, the answer seems to be “no”. They traded for reliever Joakim Soria at the deadline, and then more recently picked up Jordan Lyles and Xavier Cedeno via trade waivers after the July 31st deadline. Add in the midseason call-up of Corbin Burnes, and half of the current core bullpen group was not present on the MLB roster at the start of the season. Now, these moves show that Stearns recognized the deficiencies present with the current group and has attempted to remedy them, but they come with a price – trading away prospects – while signing a free agent in the offseason would have allowed the Brewers to retain depth in their farm system.

David Stearns decision-making is understandable – he reacted to a situation that did not go as planned, and the Brewers are now in a position to succeed moving forward. However, it is worth exploring if the games lost by relievers like Logan and Albers could have been prevented with different off-season signings.

Christian Yelich’s Success can’t be Summed Up in One Game

Christian Yelich has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball recently. He has been incredible since coming off the All-Star break and has continued it since. On Wednesday night he became the second hitter in the MLB to hit for the cycle this season. As an incredible feat as it is, you can’t sum up Yelich’s hot streak with just that game. This article is going to cover an advanced statistical look of his hot hitting (As of 8/29/18).

Last Month

Over the last month you could look that he is batting .319 with 11 home runs, which is great, but doesn’t cover all the bases. Over the last month he has posted an impressive Hard% at 57.3% (hard contact percentage) which puts him nearly 20% above excellent in the league (according to Fangraphs). Not only has he contributed in just hits but also looking at offensive value. He has put up a .434 wOBA (Weighted on-base average- based off of the fact that all hits are not created equal, similar to OPS, but OBP is worth almost double of SLG) over the last month, putting him up .034 above excellent in the league (according to fangraphs). The last thing to look at is average pitches per at bat. Yelich hits a lot in the early part of an at bat, so his numbers are not as good as somebody else’s would. Besides that, in the last month he is averaging 3.69 pitches per at bat. This is still very important when a hitter is this hot, not only is he driving pitchers crazy by getting hits, he is making them pitch to him for extended at bats. These numbers that Yelich has put up are suburb, but they get even better when you look at the last 10 days.

Last 10 Days

This past 10 days Yelich has been on fire. He posted a 64.7% Hard% which is near double league excellence (according to Fangraphs). Even when he has gotten out he is squaring up the ball, which is incredibly scary for any opposing pitcher. His wOBA sits at .493 which is virtually .100 over league excellence (according to Fangraphs). Again, that sums up his offensive value when it comes to hitting and getting on base. The last 10 days he averaged 3.67 pitches per at bat which is slightly down from his monthly average. To repeat what I said before, he is not only hitting but he is eating at the pitchers pitch count.

Reviewing Wednesday Night

On Wednesday night Yelich hit a triple to complete a cycle as MVP chants began in Great American Ballpark. He had a brilliant game going 6-6 and yes, completed a cycle. He became one of four players since 1920 to do so. Not only did he reach a big milestone, his hits were quite timely. Here’s a recap:

1 AB- 1B, came around and scored, Brewers lead 2-0

2 AB- 1B

3 AB- 2HR, gave Brewers 4-3 lead

4 AB- 2B, Arcia to 3rd set up sac fly, Reds lead 7-6

5 AB- 3B, Cain scores, Brewers tie Reds 10-10

6 AB- 1B

On a night that had to be all hands on deck, Yelich couldn’t have found a better time to hit for the cycle.

Christian Yelich has been huge for the Brewers this season and have given them some big nights. The leftie has impressed all and has helped the Brewers continue to be right in the middle of a pennant race. One can only hope that Yelich continues into the last month of the season and beyond.

Corey Ray Wins Southern League MVP

After a 2017 season that was filled with struggles, many scouts opined that the star potential of Corey Ray seemed to be dimming significantly.

Well, Corey had something of his own to say about that.

He came out firing on all cylinders in 2018, hitting .252/.347/.449 with 9 home runs in the first half. That home run count surpassed his total for the entirety of the 2017 season, as the power that was often noted in his pre-draft evaluations finally came to fruition.

The second half brought success as well, but in a slightly different form. Ray leaned much more on his power profile while increasing his strikeout-rate (many refer to this as “selling out for power”). It led to a second half slash line of .222/.292/.527 with 18 home runs.

His overall success this season led to Ray being named the 2018 Southern League MVP this past week, as Ray has also stolen 35 bases. Ray was an easy choice given his vital contributions to the first-place Biloxi Shuckers, who sit atop the league standings with an impressive 78-57 record.

Despite the honor and his productive 2018 season, Ray still has much to work on before becoming a viable outfield option for the Brewers’ big league club. He has posted a strikeout rate of 29.4% in 2018, and while high strikeout rates are common in today’s MLB, they are not optimal. In turn, Ray also will need to work on his contact abilities, as his .239 batting average for the entire season is not exactly inspiring.

The good thing for Ray – and the Brewers, for that matter – is that there is no rush to get him to the big leagues. The Brewers are currently set with their starting outfield for the next couple of years at least (Braun, Cain, Yelich), with players like Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton providing depth.

Ray still has work to do to fill the expectations that come with being a #5 overall pick, but this season definitely could be the stepping stone that paves his way to fulfilling them.

Wild Card Chase Breakdown: Milwaukee Brewers

As the Major League Baseball Season approaches its final month, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in a similar spot as last August; with their necks starting to hurt from looking up at the Chicago Cubs in the division standings, yet still in the thick of things with regard to the Wild Card race.

 

This piece will touch on every team that shares the same goal of a Wild Card berth as Milwaukee, and what needs to happen in order for the Brewers to outlast them by game 162. It’s certainly possible that the division leaders of Atlanta, Arizona, and Chicago could lose their hold on the division by the end of the season, but this piece will zero in on the current wild card picture as of 8/20.

Philadelphia Phillies- Record: 68-56, tied with Brewers

The Phillies have enjoyed a resurgent 2018 campaign under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, after having a rough last few seasons. Additions of Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta compounded with starter Aaron Nola having a breakout season (2.24 ERA) and Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins enjoying continued success has made Philadelphia an interesting contender with a good mix of young, ascending players as well as experienced veterans. The Brewers and Phillies have split their season series, 3-3. They perhaps have as good a chance to win their division as they do to claim a Wild Card spot, because as of Monday, August 20, they are just 0.5 games back of Atlanta.

St. Louis Cardinals– Record: 68-57, 0.5 GB of Brewers

The Cardinals are the hottest team in the National League right now, having won 9 of their last 11 contests and with a record of 20-11 since Mike Matheny was relieved if his managerial duties in favor of interim skipper Mike Schildt. A huge reason for their surge is first baseman Matt Carpenter. Carpenter struggles mightily out of the gates for St. Louis but now sits atop the National League in home runs with 33. When some of their strong rotation pieces come off the DL (Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha), this Cardinals team has as good a chance as any to be a serious playoff threat.

Colorado Rockies- Record: 68-56, tied with Brewers

The Colorado Rockies, who beat the Brewers by one game for the second Wild Card spot in 2017, once again find themselves neck and neck with the Crew. As usual, the Rockies have a stout offense backed by Nolan Arenado (30 HR), Trevor Story (.903 OPS), and Charlie Blackmon (.342 OBP.) The rotation, much like Milwaukee’s has been serviceable, but lacks a true ace. Colorado’s bullpen outside of Adam Ottavino has been their biggest issue, and getting those other guys right will be key for them in this chase.

LA Dodgers- Record: 67-58, 1.5 GB of Brewers

If you glanced at the Dodgers’ lineup, you would have no doubts that they would be a full-fledged World Series contender; especially after the trade deadline acquisitions of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. However they would find themselves watching from the couch if the playoffs started today, and much of that can be attributed to recent bullpen struggles in the wake of stud closer Kenley Jansen hitting the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat. This team surely has a run in them, but they look vulnerable at the moment.

While it is definitely important to follow what these other National League do with the remainder of their schedule, the Brewers simply need to take care of business with their own remaining schedule which is according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the easiest in the National League among the contenders. The upcoming homestand in which the Brewers will welcome Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to town is a crucial one. None of the three starting pitchers the Brewers will face from Cincinnati have an ERA of below 5, and while the Pirates are slipping out of contention, it will be important to take advantage of them as well.

As long as the Brewers remain focused on catching the Cubs, that effort should propel them to at least a Wild Card spot, if not the division title. And for a fan base that hasn’t tasted October baseball since the days of Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and the rest of the gang, a postseason berth of any kind would make this a successful season.

Playing Baseball or Chess

The Brewers have a surplus amount of infielders, but it may be exactly what they need. They have seven guys who get regular time in the infield, plus Ryan Braun who adds an an additional glove at first base. With having that amount, the Brewers are able to create a lineup everyday that has the best potential to win. They are able to create matchups based on who is pitching against them as well as who is pitching for them.

Basic Righty/Lefty Matchup

The Brewers are lucky to have a good spread of lefties and righties in the infield. With having three lefties and four righties the Brewers are allowed to play with this matchup daily.

Batters vs LHP

Position(s) Player L or R OBP BA HR
3B,2B,1B Travis Shaw L .292 .221 1
3B Mike Moustakas L .293 .259 5
2B,SS Jonathan Schoop R .304 .252 4
1B,OF Eric Thames L .259 .200 1
1B,3B Jesus Aguilar R .381 .264 7
SS Orlando Arcia R .218 .157 0
1B,2B,SS,3B,OF Hernan Perez R .301 .281 6

 

Defense

1B- Jesus Aguilar, 2B- Jonathan Schoop, SS- Hernan Perez, 3B- Mike Moustakas

It is known that usually left handed hitters have more of a disadvantage against left handed pitchers. Therefore, to start at first base it only makes sense to have Aguilar over Thames. As much as there are lefties out there who are very good against lefty pitchers,  Aguilar’s numbers are a lot better. As for 2B, Jonathan Schoop makes sense with being a right handed batter and have decent success against lefties. The SS position will get a little more difficult, but for now Hernan Perez has put up the best numbers. Lastly there is 3B, it really can be a toss up between Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas. I like Moustakas a little better from the power aspect.

Batters vs RHP

 

Position(s) Player L or R OBP BA HR
3B,2B,1B Travis Shaw L .358 .258 22
3B Mike Moustakas L .320 .250 17
2B,SS Jonathan Schoop R .246 .227 13
1B,OF Eric Thames L .314 .232 15
1B,3B Jesus Aguilar R .355 .282 22
SS Orlando Arcia R .254 .223 3
1B,2B,SS,3B,OF Hernan Perez R .302 .258 3

 

Defense

1B- Jesus Aguilar, 2B- Travis Shaw, SS- Jonathan Schoop, 3B- Mike Moustakas

Building matchups while facing a RHP for the most part is a little easier. You can build it around who is hitting best at the time. Right now, 1B Jesus Aguilar has been a huge weapon for the Brewers and is going to stay in the lineup as much as possible. Travis Shaw at 2B is still quite new to him, but allows the Brewers to do so much more. That allows you to put Hernan Perez at SS and Mike Moustakas at 3B. This infield is one that no one expected to be seeing in the beginning of the year, but it’s an infield that should produce runs.

When Wade Miley or Jhoulys Chacin are on the mound

It may seem a little bizarre that the guys who get put out on the field are dependent on the pitcher on the mound for them. This factor for the Brewers can make a huge difference. Both Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley have very high ground ball percentages (GB%) and those ground balls are usually the majority of their outs (Miley-52.5% Chacin- 43.2%). Having a tighter defense on the field with pitchers with high GB% can save quite a few baserunners and runs overall.

Defense

1B- Jesus Aguilar, 2B- Jonathan Schoop/Hernan Perez, SS- Orlando Arcia, 3B- Travis Shaw/Mike Moustakas

With this lineup you are putting out not only really good defense but a good offense as well. Jesus Aguilar again is staying at 1B. He is a great defensive first baseman and his offense speaks for itself. At 2B is Jonathan Schoop or Hernan Perez depending on who is swinging the better bat. Travis Shaw is just too new at this point and with ground ball pitchers the double play will be very important. Not saying that Shaw is not capable, but it comes down to 2B is more “natural” to Schoop or Perez. Orlando Arcia is one of the best defensive SS in the league. Although his offense can lack, he has been better since his stint in AAA. With 3B you could really go either way, Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas are both very good third baseman. At the end of the day who is playing can really depend on what pitcher they are facing. Wanting to put a more defensive lineup on the field, you are willing to give up some offensive production at different positions.

Quick outfield breakdown

On the Brewers 25-man roster right now they are only carrying four true outfielders. The way their roster is, there are more players who can take on an outfield position. For example, Eric Thames is a great option when wanting to give someone a day off or playing matchups. While facing a RHP, the outfield looks like this: LF- Christian Yelich, CF- Lorenzo Cain, RF- Eric Thames. When up against a LHP, the outfield switches a little bit: LF- Ryan Braun, CF- Lorenzo Cain, RF- Christian Yelich. With Eric Thames being a leftie, he is a great option against a RHP. Against a LHP, he dips quite a bit. Having Eric Thames as an option for the outfield, not only do you add a very good bat in the lineup, you are able to give Ryan Braun the off days he needs. Since giving Braun the days off he needs he has been healthier and it for sure shows on the field.

Obviously these lineups can vary depending off days, but for the most part this is how it is potentially going to look the rest of the season. The Brewers have put together an impressive roster allowing them to play with matchups. That is due to having versatile players. Not only does it give you the option to put the best players out on the field, but you have bench options for later in the game. The lineup this year has been different day to day, but when digging into why it does, it makes so much sense.

 

Keston Hiura Stayed Through Deadline, but Still Impacted

As the July trade deadline has come to a close, the Brewers managed to improve without having to split with top prospect 2B Keston Hiura. Believing that Hiura would be the second basemen of the Brewers near future is easy math. He has sped through the system putting up impressive numbers. With the addition of Jonathan Schoop, things have maybe become a little bit more unclear, or maybe not.

The addition of Jonathan Schoop, who is controllable through the 2019 season, has created somewhat of a crowded infield. Players who are able to play 2B are Schoop, Travis Shaw, and Hernan Perez. All of which who have put together good offensive numbers this season. The challenge stands now of getting all of them at bats. Another challenge that is starting to unfold is where Keston Hiura fits into all of this.

Keston Hiura has done nothing but impress since getting drafted in 2017. He currently resides in the Brewers AA team in Biloxi and continues to rake. Since being drafted out of college, he has been able to speed through the minors and most importantly has been successful at all levels.

Year Level PA SO OBP SLG OPS
2017 Rookie 72 13 .500 .839 1.339
2017 A 115 24 .374 .476 .850
2018 A+ 228 47 .382 .529 .911
2018 AA 211 37 .351 .427 .778

 

The numbers speak for themselves. At 22 he has put up some pretty big numbers at all levels. It would only make sense for him to move up to AAA for the remainder of the season and have him be our opening day 2B next year, wouldn’t it? Before the trade deadline that plan made a lot of sense if everything would have went smoothly (health wise and assuming he would be successful in AAA).

Looking at the situation now, that plan seems very far fetched and unrealistic with all the talent at 2B. As much as I would like Hiura make an impact on the Brewers ASAP, this may have a positive side that makes a lot of sense.

The worst thing you can do to a prospect like Hiura is to rush them. Schoop gives the Brewers that option they may not have had before. They now have the option to ease him into major league play. Similar to what they are doing with Corbin Burnes, the Brewers are able to get him at bats without depending on him as our only option. I could potentially see this playing out with him being a September call up, but AA to majors is quite a jump that also may seem a little dangerous. That being the case, the more likely plan is for Hiura to spend all of next year in AAA and being able to come up for different situations. With Schoop being the “bridge” to Hiura, this plan can take shape.

If however sometime this season a situation would occur where we would need someone at second base, there are others the Brewers could turn to. The Brewers AAA team is stacked, guys like Tyler Saladino, Dylan Moore, or Nate Orf could easily fix that void. As much as the Brewers are in the race now, there is no shame is risking the potential to continue to compete in the future.

In baseball things have a weird way of working out, they always do. With bringing in Schoop, not only do you have a really good bat in the lineup down the stretch , but the Brewers have options that they never had before pertaining to the future.