The 1B/2B/OF has the versatility the Brewers love, and mashes left-handed pitching.
As I wrote earlier this week, I loved the Milwaukee Brewers signing 1B Eric Thames from the Korean Baseball Organization. I think it makes a ton of sense for the Brewers, offering high upside with little risk.
However, there is some evidence that Thames will need a platoon partner at the Major League level. First, Thames was basically a platoon bat in his first Major League stint.
While he posted a respectable .754 OPS versus righties from 2011-12, he slashed just .210/.257/.377 against southpaws.
Additionally, according to a site that tracks KBO stats, Thames was considerably better versus righties than lefties in 2016.
While Thames posted a colossal .798 slugging% versus righties last season, that number fell to .470 in a small sample against lefties.
Clearly .470 would be a solid slugging% in MLB, but the KBO’s level of competition is well below the Major Leagues.
Assuming Thames does struggle against southpaws in the Bigs again, the Milwaukee Brewers should look outside of the organization for a platoon partner.
I saw a tweet musing about a particular player, and the more I thought on it, the more I liked the idea:
Steve Pearce is a 33-year-old super-utilityman known for crushing left-handed pitchers. Over the last three seasons, the versatile righty has slashed .271/.355/.546 with 20 homers in just 330 plate appearances against southpaws.
Honestly, despite a career as a bench/platoon bat, Pearce has also excelled against righties recently, despite a down year in 2015. Since 2014, he owns an .811 OPS against same-handed pitchers.
The only major knock on Pearce is his age (he’ll be 34 in April), but he’s another low-risk player the Brewers would be wise to invest in.
He’s a versatile player defensively, appearing in over 100 games at first base, 80 in left field, and 30 at second base over the last three seasons. He also has experience in right field, though the bulk of those innings came early in his career.
Not only could Pearce play in a straight platoon with Thames, he could occasionally relieve Ryan Braun in left field. Assuming Braun is a Brewer in 2017, the Crew are likely to continue giving him days off to stay fresh and healthy.
Additionally, Pearce can assist the Brewers at the keystone, especially if Scooter Gennett is still starting games there.
The Brewers are likely to see if Thames can handle lefties to start the year before immediately platooning him. If that’s the case, and Gennett is still manning second, Pearce can enter a platoon with him.
Considering his ability to spell players at multiple positions, Pearce could see considerable playing time with the Brewers.
All in all, Pearce would noticeably improve the Brewers’ lineup against lefties. He would also be a solid trade piece if he performs at all like he did in 2016.
And with MLB Trade Rumors predicting just a two year, $10 million deal for the veteran, the price looks right for the Milwaukee Brewers.