The Brewers improved defensively, acquiring veteran shortstop Alex Gonzales this off-season for a modest $4 million and an option for 2013. After watching the horror show that was Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop last season, Brewers fans will gladly take an upgrade at defense in exchange for a flashy bat. With Gonzalez, the defensive upgrade is definitely what Milwaukee received. Let’s compare two players’ numbers from 2011.
Player A: .252/.277/.381, 77 OPS+
Player B: .244/.281/.397, 81 OPS+
Who is player A? Player B? Well, one is Betancourt and one is Gonzalez. On the offensive side, neither was very impressive. Gonzalez, however, showed some promise at the plate in Milwaukee’s game against the White Sox on Wednesday, driving in four runs as the offensive star in a 10-6 victorious effort. Then again, it’s only Spring Training and we shouldn’t read too much into a veteran’s performance in one exhibition game.
Defensively, Gonzalez provides a lift for a team that owned one of the league’s worst-fielding infields. The 35-year-old only committed 12 errors in 149 games in 2011 (though errors aren’t necessarily the proper way to judge a player’s fielding). His UZR declined in 2011, which may be attributed to his aging, but it has been above-average for the rest of his career. Over eight seasons, Gonzalez’s UZR is 44.3 and maintains a .972 fielding percentage. Compare this to Betancourt’s career UZR of -48.8. That’s right. That’s a negative sign. Ouch.
Gonzalez held the second-highest Rfield in 2010, which measures the value in runs of all aspects of the player’s fielding. With a quick first step and a strong arm, he will anchor an improved infield in 2012. As for the bat, the Brewers will take what they get.
2012 RtB Predictions: .239/.290/.395, 16 HR, 65 RBI, a whole lotta plays Betancourt wouldn’t make.