Is there any upside left in Schafer? Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
After two nice, albeit short stints with the Brewers in 2011 and 2012, expectations had never been higher for Logan Schafer. While no one expected him to become an All-Star center fielder, an extremely disappointing offensive performance of .211/.279/.322 was far from fan expectations. Getting several opportunities from injuries to both Ryan Braun (and his subsequent suspension) and Carlos Gomez, Schafer was never able to capitalize on semi-regular playing time on the offensive side of the ball. Schafer did provide value by being an extremely versatile of outfielder defensively, playing plus defense at all three positions. The question going forward is if Schafer can get his bat to somewhat catch up to his plus glove.
Despite Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy’s belief that Schafer could be an everyday CF, that’s simply not true. Scouts have always given Schafer the “extra OF” tag with the absolute best case scenario of him being a second-division CF. The biggest detractor to Schafer’s game is his lack of offensive prowess. His mere .111 ISO highlights the fact that he is basically a singles hitter who occasionally runs into extra base hits. His minor league numbers paint a similar picture. In Huntsville, he posted an ISO under .100, and in the extremely hitter-friendly PCL he posted an ISO of .159. There’s nothing in Schafer’s swing to suggest further power potential. Despite showing occasional pull-side power, he has a very flat swing that produces ground balls and line-drives, but fails to generate loft to give him any substantial power numbers.
Many centerfielders have had successful careers without being impactful in the power department, and that’s where real development in Schafer’s game will have to occur. Despite being marketed as a player with plus speed, Schafer has never really turned into a threat on the base paths. Over the last three years he has only stolen 38 bases in 372 games played at the AA level and above. In order for Schafer to provide enough value to be a true contributor he’ll need to use his speed better to snag extra bases.
Even if Schafer refines his baserunning skills, it won’t matter much if he can’t actually get on-base at the Major League level. It’s hard to imagine Schafer posting anything more than an average walk rate since he won’t strike fear into opposing pitchers, so he’ll need to be a plus hitter to have value at the plate. Schafer’s minor league numbers don’t inspire much confidence that he’ll be anything more than fringe-average offensively. His highest wRC+ in the upper minors was 130 with Nashville in 60 games, which he followed with a 98 in a larger sample of 124 games.
The final nail in the coffin for Schafer’s everyday hopes is his platoon split. He wasn’t particularly successful against right-handers this year, but he was atrocious against lefties. He posted a meager line of .175/.217/.281. It was only 63 PA so we can’t make a permanent judgement on Schafer’s ability to handle southpaws, but the early returns point to him being a platoon player at best.
I hate to be so pessimistic regarding Schafer, but nothing in his minor league numbers, scouting reports, or extended Major League performance suggests anything more than a backup OF. He provides a manager with great flexibility as a reserve OF in that he can play all three OF positions very well, but the lack of offensive output will keep from being anything more than a Sam Fuld type of player.