Jun 25, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) confronts Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (27) after Gomez slid hard into second baseman Kevin Frandsen (not pictured) in the eighth inning at Miller Park. MLB umpire Mark Wegner stands in between. The Brewers beat the Nationals 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
At the mid-point of the season the Brewers are 49-32, which is the best mark in franchise history. It’s much higher than where most prognosticators had them at the start of the season, myself included. I projected this team to go 82-80.
The breaks have gone Milwaukee’s way all year, and despite some slumps and poor performances, the Crew keeps rolling along.
Today we’re going to grade first-half performances for the Brewers position players.
First Base – C
For the most part Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay have served as a first-base platoon for Milwaukee, but Jonathan Lucroy also played some first base for the Brewers while Aramis Ramirez was hurt and Reynolds manned third base.
A combined 1.4 WAR is good for 7th of the 15 NL teams at first base. Offensively the group is just 12th of the 15 NL clubs at first base.
Lyle Overbay is having a bad season at the plate, with just a .238/.323/.347 line and wRC+ of just 86, well below average for a first baseman.
Mark Reynolds has been better in only one respect, he’s got 13 home runs. Unfortunately when it comes to offense, home runs are just about all Mark Reynolds is providing right now with a league-average 100 wRC+.
Defensively though, the combination rates out as the second best first baseman in the National League.
Staff Writer Andrew Vrchota says I should give these guys a B-, but I’d still like to see more offense out of first base than this.
Jun 15, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) reacts after hitting a double to drive in 2 runs in the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Second Base – A
Despite Rickie Weeks‘ up-and-down season, the second base platoon of Weeks and Scooter Gennett is going according to plan. The Brewers have 2.3 WAR out of the second base position, behind only the Dodgers in the National League.
Gennett is having a great season, slashing .311/.346/.487 and benefiting greatly from his platoon split as his minor league numbers against left-handed pitching weren’t pretty. He’s also having a solid, if unspectacular season defensively for the Crew.
Weeks may be the streakiest player in baseball. In April he was horrific. In May he was fantastic. In June is ok. Either way, he’s still better against left-handed pitching that Gennett has shown to be.
Third Base – B
Mark Reynolds filled in capably for Aramis Ramirez when he was on the disabled list, but the Crew benefits both offensively and defensively when Ramirez is on the Field.
The two have combined for 2.4 WAR at the hot corner, good for the 4th spot in the National League but not particularly close to the Nationals, Dodgers and Reds ahead of them.
Reynolds is dragging down the numbers a little. If you look just at Ramirez, he’s got a 135 wRC+, which is second in the NL behind just Todd Frazier of the Reds.
The Brewers knew when they signed Ramirez to his free agent contract that everything would revolve around his health. Milwaukee is better when Ramirez is on the field every day.
Shortstop – D
Appearing in 77 of the Brewers 81 games, Jean Segura has been the most consistent part of the Brewers infield. Unfortunately for the Brewers every offensive number is down sharply from last season. His .245/.278/.336 line is down 50 points in AVG and OBP and 90 points in SLG.
Segura is still a good base runner and above average defender, but he isn’t putting up the kind of elite defensive numbers you’d expect from a shortstop hitting that badly.
I don’t think it is likely that Segura continues to play this badly. None of his minor league or previous major league numbers would suggest that this is the real Jean Segura.
Left Field – C
Khris Davis has done most of the work in left field this season, but the few times Logan Schafer saw the field actually dragged down the combined left-field WAR to 1.0, good for 9th of the 15 National League teams.
Davis is having a good season with the bat, especially for a second year player, and he should improve as he ages. Davis is slashing .257/.304/.486 but only Reynolds strikes out at a higher rate.
Jun 20, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (27) heads for home in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Center Field – A
To put it simply, Carlos Gomez is the best center fielder in the National League. His 3.5 war is the highest, and his wRC+ is good for second in the NL behind Andrew McCutchen. Unfortunately for McCutchen, Gomez is much better defensive player than he is.
June has been a pretty average month for Gomez, after fantastic months in April and May, but he continued to reach base and score runs. If the Brewers keep winning, and Gomez keeps his pace, he has a legitimate shot at winning an MVP this year.
Right Field – C
The combined WAR for all players who have played in right for Milwaukee is just 0.7, as Schafer, Herrera, Caleb Gindl, dragged down the numbers from Braun’s 1.3 WAR.
Braun’s 125 wRC+ is good for fourth in the National League behind Stanton in Miami, Yasiel Puig in Los Angeles and Hunter Pence in San Fransisco. If he stays healthy he should climb the list of NL right fielders.
That said, by his own lofty standards, it has been a pedestrian year for Braun. He’s well below his career averages in AVG, OBP and SLG, but his defense does appear to have improved in right.
What is really hurting Braun is a bad June. His April and May were both actually pretty great and in line with his career numbers, but in June he’s started flailing at pitches out of the zone, and generally taking bad at-bats.
Jun 20, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) and Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (27) react after both coming into score in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Catcher – A
We’re finally down to catcher. Guess what? The Brewers lead the National League in WAR at the catcher position by a mile. Jonathan Lucroy is the best starting catcher in the National League.
Martin Maldonado is probably the best back-up catcher in the National League. It’s an embarrassment of riches in Milwaukee.
Remember a couple of positions ago when I said that Carlos Gomez was third in the National League in WAR? Well, Jonathan Lucroy is right behind him in fourth and a potential MVP candidate in his own right.
The combined offensive numbers for Lucroy and Maldonado are fantastic. They lead all NL catchers in AVG, OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+. Defensively Lucroy is rated as the best pitch-framer in baseball, stealing strikes for Brewer pitchers. Unfortunately, the Brewer pitching staff holds runners on base about as well as I do.
So there we are, three A’s, a B, three C’s and a D. Do you disagree with my grades, and how will the look at the end of the season? Let us know in the comments.