Now while the Milwaukee Brewers do have some hopeful internal options to play first base, perhaps there’s one that should be considered more so than the others. I’m not a huge fan of two catchers in a line-up for a National League team, but many catchers can also play first base, so why not try out Martin Maldonado?
At this point, the Brewers have nothing to lose by at least testing out Maldonado at first during Spring Training.
Even if the Brewers didn’t use Maldonado everyday at first, which I can say I do not recommend anyway, they still have time to use him as a back-up to Jonathan Lucroy. In Corey Hart‘s absence (but returning soon), clearly first base is wide open now with Mat Gamel gone, so perhaps one person shouldn’t get too comfortable in the position which would be perfect for Maldonado. Other likely candidates for first include Taylor Green, Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Bianchi, so Maldonado has some decent internal competition to go up against.
Does Maldonado make for the best first baseman? Well, he’s had a few glances at the position here and there between the minors and majors, but that’s not to say revisiting the idea should be thrown out the window. After all, baseball is unpredictable so who knows what could happen.
Looking at what Maldonado did last season, he was a .266/.321/.408 hitter with eight homers, 30 RBIs and scored 22 runs. He only played in 78 games and primarily in one of the toughest spots for any hitter in a line-up, catcher. There aren’t a whole lot of catchers that necessarily hit for average, but in the short span that we’ve seen Maldonado, he has, so who knows how much he could increase his stats if he plays at first.
First base isn’t exactly the most physical position in baseball, though it does have its share of sharp line drives and grounders. Unlike playing catcher, Maldonado won’t have to exert as much energy at first base. The Brewers definitely need to try him at first in Spring Training because really, what else have you got to lose? Green may pose a threat to Maldonado, but nobody else really does internally.
However, in reality I don’t see the move happening at all. The Brewers feel comfortable enough using Maldonado as a back-up catcher and to base how well he’d do in 2013 based on his first season in 2012 isn’t a great comparison. He’s a great player with a bright future no doubt, but I’m just not sure I see Ron Roenicke making the move. Temporarily, it’s not a bad idea to consider especially since Hart plans to be back by the end of April, but we’ll see where that goes.