2014 Best Case Scenario: The Middle Infield


Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura turns a double play at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The off-season is the best time to be a Brewer fan. Oh, the optimism! Best Case Scenario is an opportunity to dream in “what ifs” and see what happens when the Brew Crew catches all the breaks. This Brewer cocktail is made up of two parts dreaming big and one part reality. Feel free to shake your head and pour over ice.

Today, we look at the middle infielders (catcher, second base, and shortstop). It wasn’t many years ago this group looked very different, not necessarily better or worse, just different. Remember when Yuniesky Betancourt was the starting shortstop in 2011? Okay, in some areas it was worse. Much worse.

Jean Segura (SS) 2013 WAR 3.9, 2014 Projected WAR 4.0
The Zack Greinke trade (that netted Segura) may turn out to be Doug Melvin’s greatest hit as a GM. Many hoped Segura would take on a full time role at shortstop, few expected an All-Star performance in year one. After starting the year red hot with a bang, Segura did come back to Earth, struggling and then eventually ending on a rather quiet note. Still, he hit .294 and showed flashes of power with 12 home runs. For next year I expect more consistency with an average over .300 and solid defense in the field.

Scooter Gennett (2B) 2013 WAR 2.1 (69 games), 2014 Projected WAR 3.0
I am a horrible gambler, but betting on Scooter Gennett over Rickie Weeks is a pretty sure bet here. I’m in the minority thinking Weeks can bounce back; I just don’t think he can do it in Milwaukee. It’s time to move on. It took a while of convincing, but Scooter Gennett won the starting second baseman job last year and deserves to start the season in that role. The hit against Gennett is his poor hitting against lefties; however, he still hit an overall .324 in 69 games.

Nothing appears to come easy for Gennett. Here’s to hoping that provides motivation for him to keep up the hard work and improve on areas of deficiency. He deserves the chance to be an everyday player.

Jonathan Lucroy (C) 2013 WAR 2.9, 2014 Projected WAR 2.5
It’s easy to take for granted Jonathan Lucroy. Despite fighting off injuries to start the season, Mr. Solid still hit .280 with 18 homers and 82 runs batted in. His salary is team friendly and there isn’t a lot of flash in his game. However, note how the level of team dysfunction seems to rise when Lucroy is out. Probably not a coincidence, they need to keep Lucroy behind the plate.

FREE AGENT ACQUISITION: Omar Infante (2B) 2013 WAR 2.4, 2014 Projected WAR 3.0
The Tigers did not make a qualifying offer to their starting second baseman, Omar Infante, making him an available free agent. Infante’s 2013 stats include a .318 average and ten home runs. Unfortunately, with first base as a priority, this falls into the nice to have category. Can Doug Melvin find a solution at first and make a three-year, 27 million dollar offer to Infante? Is this enough? If so, it will probably be a back room offer we never hear about (unless comes to fruition). Infante not only plays second, but also backs up shortstop and third base, both areas of need. Larger market teams with the Brewers’ bench may consider Infante more of a necessity than a nice to have.

BENCH: Martin Maldonado, Jeff Bianchi, Caleb Gindl, Elian Herrera
With the exception of Maldonado behind the plate, the Brewers will again be in trouble if they have to rely on Bianchi, Gindl, or Herrera for long stretches as starters.

After an optimistic “best case outfield” WAR of 17 and adding the 9 games above the Brewers have already reached their win total of 74 (48+17+9) for 2013. We still have two more areas to cover! How bad could the corner positions and pitching be? Oh. Stay tuned for more “best case scenario” coverage.

Keep drinking and dreaming.