If there’s one bat that needs to be in the line-up consistently, at least if not on an every day basis, it needs to be Martin Maldonado‘s. What 2012 has shown us is that the Milwaukee Brewers have been able to tinker around the batting order and every day line-ups due to copious amounts of injuries. When the Brewers called up Maldonado back in May, he had only had a prior month of experience in the MLB which was September of 2011. Since May, Maldonado’s production has been outstanding and he proved not only to us, but to himself, that despite only being called up because of Jonathan Lucroy‘s injury, that he was and still is major league ready.
So, how exactly do the Brewers insert Maldonado into the line-up regularly? Well, that’s easy. Have him play first base.
While Corey Hart occupies first base in 2012, the Brewers will have a quick dilemma on their hands come 2013. Mat Gamel will be back and healthy and Hart will still have another year on his contract. There’s also the option, which needs to be considered, of putting Maldonado at first. The Brewers’ acquisition of Yorvit Torrealba really only solidifies the decision to that as he can be Lucroy’s back-up and play every fifth day.
How are these dilemmas resolved?
Well, it’s simple. It’s hard for Brewers’ fans to let go of someone they’ve essentially seen grown up in their system, but if it’s anyone, Hart has the most trade value. The Brewers could do well in trading Hart, maybe for a pitcher if needed, because you have a player who hits for a decent .270/.280 average, has hit over 25 home runs a season in the past three seasons, and can play first base alongside right field.
Now, for Gamel and Maldonado, you have them split time at first. I don’t necessarily believe this is a slap in the face to Gamel as it is a leap of faith for Maldonado. To me, Maldonado has shown consistent production at the plate, and his .277 batting average in 2012 is only strengthening that. He’s also hits well with runners on as he’s hitting .260 in that scenario. He has also done incredibly well at Miller Park, as he’s hitting .306 with five home runs, 16 RBIs, 11 runs scored and has 11 walks. His plate discipline overall could use some tweaking, but hey, that’s something he’ll work on with time.
Even if the Brewers decide on the fifth day that they want Maldonado to catch when Lucroy gets his break, they still can put Gamel at first or even Taylor Green if need be. The versatility that this decision brings up is endless really and it only adds pop to the line-up.
Here’s a potential line-up with Maldonado at first:
- 1. Norichika Aoki
- 2. Rickie Weeks
- 3. Ryan Braun
- 4. Aramis Ramirez
- 5. Jonathan Lucroy
- 6. Martin Maldonado
- 7. Carlos Gomez / Nyjer Morgan
- 8. Jean Segura / Jeff Bianchi
- 9. Pitcher
Is it perfect? No, but it’s certainly one that no pitcher could easily pitch around. If anything, the line-up would need to perhaps shift some of the power around so it’s spread throughout instead of clumped together. Regardless, Maldonado’s bat may produce more than Hart’s, but that remains to be seen. It’s not as if I want to get rid of Hart, but Maldonado has so much potential beyond just catching. Plus, if the Brewers could get anything decent for Hart, why not test the market?