This will be a four part article, and we will be starting with none other than the infield. The Milwaukee Brewers‘ infield, amid numerous injuries and switching players around, held up nicely for the most part, yet it wasn’t perfect. However, defense was only part of the game. This report card not only includes the overall defense at the position, but the offensive production as well.
The shortstop void has been filled for now, but what can we truly expect from Jean Segura going forward? Is second base completely locked up for Rickie Weeks or is someone else looming in the shadows? Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy held their respected positions of third base and catcher down pretty soundly and there is no reason to be concerned about either one. First base will still remain to be the biggest question overall. Does it go to Mat Gamel or Corey Hart? Do we re-sign Travis Ishikawa as a back-up? So many questions and more will hopefully be answered here.
First Base (Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, Travis Ishikawa, Taylor Green): B-
What these four gentlemen showed us was that despite having another gaping hole in the corner part of the infield, that there was an able bodied player there at all times. Now unfortunately for Gamel his 2012 was done in May. For Ishikawa, this was a huge vote of confidence for him considering even his playing time in San Francisco was limited with Aubrey Huff at first. Even when Ishikawa was playing first base off and on this season, he wasn’t doing a bad job. After Ishikawa got injured, then Ron Roenicke finally turned to Hart as the fix for the remainder of the season.
Fortunately enough for us, Hart could field and his bat was eventually turning it around. He provided the same consistent production that he usually does year in, year out. However, 2012 marked the second time in Hart’s career that he hit at least 30 home runs. He also attributed his suspect play in the outfield to the infield where he looked much more comfortable and opened up the door for Norichika Aoki in right field.
Green on the other hand just really failed to impress anyone and definitely leaves a lot to be desired in both the realms of offense and defense. He has time to work on his A-game, but don’t expect him to light up the scoreboard next season.
So what do we do with the dilemma of Hart and Gamel? If trade talks become present, I’m not sure how many teams will jump the gun on Hart. Sure, he’s versatile in the field, but he also is 30 and has a rough time in right field. He has a decent power bat and will provide a definitive ‘pop’ in a line-up, but I couldn’t see the Brewers getting enough for him to warrant a trade. Gamel will probably be the back-up, but so be it. Can’t take away right field from Aoki and you certainly can’t take Hart out of this line-up unless there’s a darn good reason.
Second Base (Rickie Weeks, Eric Farris): D+
It’s almost unfair to throw Farris in here even though he only played in 14 games in 2012. Granted, he was still a part of the equation at second and really made us wonder, is he someone we have to look towards if Weeks just doesn’t pan out later? Perhaps.
Weeks just for a lack of a better term, had an awful 2012. I’m not sure awful does the description much justice, but aside from a portion of July and all of September, Weeks just struggled this season. His offense was poor, striking out 62 more times than last year, and only having 13 more hits in more games played than in 2011 and so on. Even his defense was lackluster as he committed 16 errors at second this season.
So what saved second base from an inevitable F? September.
Shortstop (Jean Segura, Jeff Bianchi): C
This grade may seem a tad unfair, but by no means do I mean it that way. What this C means is that Segura and Bianchi are average. We haven’t seen a whole heck of a lot of them and 2013 will be no better time to show us what they have. If the Brewers still cling to Alex Gonzalez beyond this winter, I might have a few issues with that decision unless they keep him to provide experience and then toss him. Who knows?
Segura did well since coming over from the Los Angeles Angels. He had a decent .264 batting average with 14 RBIs, seven extra base hits and 13 walks. While he hasn’t hit his first home run yet, there’s no reason for concern. Segura provided the offense needed, especially out of the mysterious shortstop position that the Brewers worried about all season. Previous experiments included Cody Ransom, Colin’s buddy Cesar Izturis along with others, but fortunately Segura looks to be our guy going forward. Defensively for Segura, he has a lot, and I mean a lot, of room for improvement, committing 10 errors in only 43 games played.
Bianchi on the other hand I felt we never got a real glimpse of. Sure, he had that 0-13 stretch before getting a hit, but hey, it takes some guys a little while to get warmed up. Actually, before he got his first hit, he was sent back down to the minors to improve his offense and he did just that…well sort of. He did end up hitting three home runs and got nine RBIs until the season’s end. Bianchi defensively still hasn’t been defined as to where he’ll stand in the majors, but he only committed one error in 14 games so maybe he and Segura will have some help in the off-season.
Third Base (Aramis Ramirez, Taylor Green): A
Really, this grade is all A-Ram. Green had a few games at third and his versatility adds to his value, that is if he can fully grasp the major league concept.
Ramy though had one heck of a season, which was probably one of his best in the majors. Ramy had a .300/.360/.540 slash line with 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and 50 doubles, which is just incredible on its own. Ramirez’s contributions in this line-up were incredible and he definitely backed Ryan Braun‘s bat in a lot of ways. Even though the Brewers are still one of the lesser talked about teams in the MLB, the duo of Braun and Ramirez is one of the most lethal in the entire league.
Ramirez’s defense still wasn’t bad at all. He committed seven errors in 300 total chances, which gave him a .977 fielding percentage on the year. Despite that, he still had a couple nice dives here and there. He may not be the premiere third baseman in the game, but his 2012 definitely made a case for him.
What’s Matt Kemp‘s saying? Beast mode never sleeps? Well, that’s exactly right when it comes down to the Brewers’ catchers. Lucroy, even though he was injured for a part of the season, still managed to have a pretty good season at that. A .320 average with 12 home runs, 58 RBIs and 46 runs scored sounds like a pretty decent year for a catcher. Lucroy provides that and so much more, especially with his glove. While he did commit seven errors this season, he did help turn four double plays and threw out 19 runners out of 70 attempts.
When Lucroy was out due to injury, the Brewers turned to the somewhat ready Maldonado. Nobody knew how he’d do, but what we found out was that he exceeded a lot of our expectations. Maldonado filled in some pretty big shoes and did well. He hit .266 with eight home runs, 30 RBIs and scored 22 runs. He even hit a grand slam.
After Lucroy was back, Maldonado took the spot of George Kottaras, meaning he’d play every fifth day. Even then, that didn’t seem to slow him down at all. He committed six errors behind the plate, but that’s pretty much negated out due to the fact that he’s part machine with his cannon arm. That’s right. Maldonado threw out 15 base runners in 32 attempts and that was inside of 58 games played. Talk about impressive.
For Torrealba, he’s an interesting addition to this ball club. He has veteran experience as a catcher and perhaps can share some of that knowledge.
That’s it for part one.