Over the last month we have been breaking down the positional production of the Milwaukee Brewers current roster and the 2011 N.L Central champs. This analysis is being conducted to get an estimate on when the Brewers will once again be ready to compete. Thus far it has been determined that the outfield is 1-2 years away from matching 2011 production while the first base situation is still 3-5 years away. Next up – 2nd base.
Coming out spring training in 2011, the Brewers had to be excited about possessing one of the most dangerous 2nd basemen in baseball. Coming off a season with 29 home runs, 89 RBI’s, 112 runs scored and a solid .269 average, Rickie Weeks seemed primed to take his game to the next level.
Coming out of Southern University and A&M College, Weeks was taken 2nd overall in the 2003 MLB Draft. His name came with a lot of hype and an early appearance on the MLB roster (2003) only added to the excitement. In his early years for the Brewers and brief stints in the minors, Weeks power would never be questioned. Rather, the speculation was always whether he could hit for average and adequately field his position.
Many of these questions lingered into 2010 season where he had yet to live up to the hype of a 2nd overall pick. However, it all come together for Weeks in 2010 as he posted the aforementioned numbers and seemed to be making strides defensively. With his progression, the Milwaukee Brewers added to their list of feared hitters, already including Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart.
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Much to the Brewers delight Weeks continued this production into the 2011 season. On the year weeks once again hit for a .269 average, saw a slight drop in power with 20 home runs while driving in 49 and scoring 77 times. Some of this drop in production can be attributed to an ankle injury that kept him out nearly the entire month of August.
Despite leading all 2nd baseman in errors (25) and posting the lowest fielding percentage (.969) at his position, Weeks was still voted by fans into the 2011 All-Star game. This endorsement seemed to signal that the former 2nd overall pick had reached his potential and the Brewers had an All-Star 2nd basemen for years to come.
Although Weeks experienced a steep decline in production post-2011. He was still a key contributor to an exciting team that reached the N.L. Central Championship game. If we are to set his 2011 production as the benchmark for the team success, let’s see how the team’s current 2nd base situation stacks up.
Going into the 2016 season many fans saw the acquisition of former All-Star 2nd ba
semen, Aaron Hill would signal the end for Scooter Gennett’s time with the Milwaukee Brewers. But with Hill spending considerable time at 3rd base, the team gave Gennett an opportunity to bounce back after a miserable 2015 campaign.
Like Weeks, Gennett’s ascent to the majors can be credited to his offensive production over his fielding ability. However, having spent the 2015 season in a platoon situation due to concerns over his ability to hit left-handed pitching, his long term future seemed anything but certain going into the year.
While still regularly given the day off against lefties, Craig Counsell has gone away from a strict platoon plan for Gennett. On the season he has 89 appearances against south-paw’s posting a respectable slash line of (.270,.333,.393). While these numbers are by no mean’s enough to keep him in the lineup against Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, it is encouraging to have seen him take a step forward.
Although this bump in production against lefties is a good sign, the question still remains is Gennett good enough to be a key producer on a world series contender? If one is to look around the league (Chicago Cubs) or at the 2011 Brewers it seems that true contenders possess several players having All-Star type seasons. And if we are to take David Stearns at his word in an interview with Tom Haudricourt of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"“It is our primary obligation to our fan base to do everything we can to win a World Series. That is the underlying goal behind every decision I make. The insinuation that we’re trying to do anything other than that is misleading.”Sep 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) hits an RBI double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports"
Then it would seem the Brewers would be forced to move on from Scooter Gennett sometime in the near future. Although he has had somewhat of a bounce back year batting (.263,.315,.393) these numbers are not enough to keep someone long term who is said to be, “known for his bat”.
Luckily for the organization they already possess an All-Star 2nd basemen in the state of Wisconsin. Playing just a few hours North of Miller Park for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Isan Diaz has put together a season that has fans excited about the long term future at 2nd base. For more on Diaz and his production and what to expect check out these articles from our other contributors.
In summary, it would appear that in order to be a contender for the World Series the team must field several players capable of producing at an All-Star level. In 2011, Weeks provided this production alongside Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Currently the team is unable to match with Gennett as the everyday 2nd basemen. Therefore, fans must wait and hope that current Wisconsin Timber Rattler, Isan Diaz experiences a swift rise through the minors and is able to post the numbers necessary for the Brewers to playing well into October.
All statistics for this study are courtesy of FanGraphs