Now that the trade deadline has come and gone it is a good time to examine the long-term fit of players remaining. We will start with arguably the Milwaukee Brewers hottest hitter, Hernan Perez.
According to Fangraphs over the last 30 days (24 games), Hernan Perez is leading the team in average (.342), RBI’s (18), WAR (1.2) and tied for the team lead in home runs (5). He has also demonstrated his base running ability with nine stolen bases. In comparison, Major League-leading Jonathan Villar swiped 16 over the same period.
For some perspective and fun, if Perez were able to play at this pace for a whole season he would finish with 33 home runs, 121 RBI’s and 60 stolen bases. While no one is projecting the utility man to play this well over 162 games, it does give us insight into how well he has been playing.
While fans will be watching to see if Perez continues his hot streak as the new clean-up hitter, it is certain the Milwaukee Brewers front office is observing his play determine a role for next year and beyond. Some of this is out of his control as the Milwaukee Brewers are financially committed to Ryan Braun, leaving two available outfield spots. Looking further at Perez as a player, it is evident he doesn’t possess traditional center-fielder abilities. This narrow’s his outfield chances to his current position of right-field.
As a right fielder, Perez has performed admirably, making the expected plays as well as the occasional sliding catch. Based on his adequate defense and the hot bat he has essentially regulated Ramon Flores to the bench, full time.
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However, with the Milwaukee Brewers adding big time prospect Lewis Brinson to an already talented group of minor league outfielders, it ‘s hard to see a long-term future for Perez in Milwaukee. Luckily, the team won’t have decide immediately as players such as Brinson, Brett Phillips, Corey Ray and Trent Clark are a few years away from being promoted. But the team does still possess Domingo Santana who began the year as the starting right fielder. Although currently injured, many saw Santana as an everyday player for years to come. It would be prudent to give completely up on a talented player through an injury-riddled season.
So, what to do with Perez? One thought is shifting him back to third base, pairing him with Arcia (shortstop) and Villar (2nd). This leaves yet another player without a role; Scooter Gennett. So far Gennett has had a nice bounce-back year, facing lefties on a regular basis and proving he can handle the role. It would be a difficult decision to move on from Gennett as he is still young 26 and has some nice pop for a 2nd baseman.
Without a simple answer, there are several different routes the Milwaukee Brewers can take. In the present, the team could shut down Santana, leaving the remainder of the season for Perez in right field. If this is not an option, Perez could move back into the utility role, filling in on Ryan Braun’s off days and situational roles.
Whatever they choose to do, there are long term implications. If Perez is given the everyday job and continues to produce, he may be a hot commodity come next year’s trade deadline. But if Perez struggles upon given long term at-bats, the team can rest easy knowing they have a reliable utility player moving forward.
Down the road the Milwaukee Brewers may look to get out early from Ryan Braun’s contract, opening another position for players like Perez and Santana to both be in the lineup.
In my opinion, the Milwaukee Brewers should allow Perez the time to prove his worth as the clean-up hitter and right fielder while giving Santana rest. Even if Santana comes back, this year it might be worth letting him finish the year at AAA to work on his game. The thin air of Colorado Springs could do wonders for the young player’s confidence.