Last year, I admittedly fell for the gritty, pinch-hitting slugger (?) that was–and still is, I suppose–Brooks Conrad. But before this short-lived love affair began and while the outlook on Ryan Braun’s season looked bleak, the glove-handy and speedy Logan Schafer was the Brewer I hitched my bandwagon to.
After Schafer’s rise in 2011, a season in which he saw over 100 plate appearances at rookie ball, he made his big league debut, which totaled five plate appearances and a champagne celebration after clinching the division. Given the odds and circumstances, led by a looming fifty-game suspension, to Braun around this time last year and a lack of outfield depth on the 40-man roster, Schafer’s Opening Day prospects were more than just an unlikely long shot; even if the Brewers, as expected, had gone with a four-man outfield, the Mat Gamel injury in early May and the subsequent moves made would have likely given Schafer his chance.
Braun, thankfully, won his appeal, did not face a suspension, and Schafer, 26, spent 120 games all in AAA Nashville.
With Nyjer Morgan now removed from the outfield picture, the longtime prospect is now ready to take the step to becoming a Brewer.
Despite accumulating only 25 plate appearanceslast season, Schafer posted the seventh-highest WAR among all Brewers. His RAR (Runs above replacement) in during just a September call-up was higher than that of Morgan, Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Bianchi, Jean Segura, and Taylor Green, all of whom (with the exception of Maysonet with 66 PA’s) had over three times as many chances at the dish Schafer. His brightest moment came pinch-hitting in the midst of the Brewers’ late surge into postseason contention, trailing 4-1 against the Mets. With Morgan and Segura on first and second, Schafer roped a Jenrry Mejia fastball down the right field line and legged out a triple – one of the two he hit in 2012. The play had a game-high WPA of 23% and Schafer would scurry home on a wild pitch to tie the game, which they would win, 9-6.
Schafer’s offense is nothing to scoff at, but he’ll make his money with his glove. His range and ball instincts are superb. In 38.2 innings in the Brewers outfield, he made four plays out of the typical outfielder’s range. To recall a familiar name for Brewers fans, Schafer looks like a smoother version of Nyjer Morgan in the outfield with an average arm, at best, who can make phenomenal plays with his range.
Here’s to hoping Schafer doesn’t turn out the same as that Conrad guy that I seemed to really like once.