Part two will deal with the Milwaukee Brewers‘ outfield. Since there are only three positions and a heck of a lot less players, this won’t nearly be as long (hopefully) as my book that was part one. Okay, all jokes aside, the Brewers’ outfield in 2012 was its strong point in offense and in defense (which provided some amazing catches). With the 2011 MVP Ryan Braun, a new player to America in Norichika Aoki and the combination of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan, this outfield was deadly offensively and defensively. The outfield did a lot right in the 2012 season and for the most part, I felt flew under the radar. Sure, Braun’s name was everywhere but you never heard Aoki’s name anywhere else or Gomez’s and Morgan’s. Here’s a look at the outfield’s report card:
Left field: (Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan): A+
As we all know, left field is by far Braun’s position, but even when Morgan filled in, he still did a nice job. For Braun however, his 2012 was eerily similar to his 2011, but didn’t quite have the exact same numbers. That said, it’s not as if Braun’s numbers were garbage. A .319/.391/.595 slash line with 41 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 112 RBIs (two under his career high), 108 runs scored and so on and so forth. Braun had a season that should easily be in the talks for the 2012 NL MVP.
Defensively, Braun had six errors, whereas in 2011 he only had one. Aside from that, his range factor in 2012 was 1.93, which was higher than last year and his defensive WAR was a positive 0.1 as opposed to 2011′s -0.3. Braun is quite the complete package and his solid defensive play really adds to his value as a player.
So really, what’s not to like about Braun? He’s a solid power bat year in, year out. You know he’s going to give you over 30 home runs with a batting average well over .300. You know Braun is a speedster as he’s stolen 63 bases in the past two seasons combined. Braun’s also very clutch because with runners on or in scoring position, he’s hitting over .300 in those scenarios. His defensive play also attributes as to why he’s such a good, all-around player.
Morgan however only played 19 games in left field in which four those were starts. I’ll get to Morgan later when center field receives their grade.
Center field: (Carlos Gomez, Nyjer Morgan) B
While some people may think Aoki should be in this discussion, I feel that Gomez and Morgan played a much larger role here. Gomez and Morgan originally were splitting time because Ron Roenicke was trying to decide who deserved the position more. Unfortunately for Morgan, his struggles continued all season (an overall .239 batting average with only 16 RBIs and six extra base hits), but he had a pretty amazing August though, hitting .298 in the month with six RBIs, two triples, one double and had three stolen bases. He did however have a nice on base percentage of .302. For Morgan, he played in 122 games, but out of those 122, he only started 66. In his time in the outfield, Morgan primarily played center field, but would end up playing all three spots during the course of the season and committed no errors.
Gomez on the other hand was a surprise to us all. Nobody really knew outside of his tenure with the Minnesota Twins, what Gomez could really do on the field. Well, in 2012 he reinvented himself into the starting role in center and held that spot down with authority. Gomez hit .260 with 19 home runs, 51 RBIs, stole 37 bases and scored 72 runs. What’s even more surprising than that are his slugging and on base percentages. In 2012, Gomez had a .463 slugging percentage and a .305 on base percentage, which both were the highest in his career. Even his defense wasn’t too bad. Sure, he had five errors in 269 total chances, but he helped turn four double plays, had nine assists and had a range factor of 2.61. Incredible.
The reason this position gets a B is because center field was such a toss-up in 2012. Nobody knew who was really going to get it, but Gomez made his name known. I feel he’ll have an even stronger 2013.
Right field: (Norichika Aoki, Corey Hart): A-
Much like left field for Braun, right field was thought to be Hart’s position. Some of us weren’t exactly thrilled with that, seeing him out there with the deer in the headlights look. The corner in right always seemed to be Hart’s nemesis, but regardless of that, he soon transitioned to first base. I talked about Hart’s offensive numbers in part one. His defense in right field only lasted 53 games (49 of which he started) until Mat Gamel‘s injury put Hart at first and Aoki in right field. In those 53 games, Hart committed two errors in 82 total chances.
When the door opened for Aoki, he took full advantage of his opportunities. Aoki started off a little slow when April began, but ended up hitting .304 for the month with one home run, two RBIs and scored four runs. From there, Aoki would just continue to pile up the hits. For awhile, it seemed that Aoki’s name had to be somewhere in the discussion for NL Rookie of the Year, but his stats, aside from hits, really seemed to drop off a bit. However, September was by far Aoki’s best month as he hit .295 with four home runs, 18 RBIs, had seven stolen bases, scored 21 runs and had 14 extra base hits.
Aoki’s 2012 campaign was a rather successful one. His overall offensive numbers include a .288/.355/.433 slash line with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, 30 stolen bases and 43 walks with only 55 strikeouts. Even in the field, Aoki was good. He played all three positions, but spent the majority (107 games) in right field. In right, Aoki had two errors in 204 total chances, had seven assists and helped turn two double plays. His arm was tested quite a bit as he had a 2.03 range factor from right.
That’s it for part two.