Milwaukee Brewers: What has gotten into Eric Sogard?
Milwaukee Brewers utility man Eric Sogard is enjoying the best year of his career, and he’s only played 21 games. In parts of six seasons in Oakland, Sogard accumulated a 3.7 career WAR. In 21 games in Milwaukee, he’s already a 1.1 WAR player. Where did this come from?
Eric Sogard’s hot 2017 season started before he ever put on a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. The former Face of MLB and Nerd Power aficionado, slashed .330/.421/.516 in 24 games with the Triple-A Colorado Sky Sox.
And then he got hot.
Since he arrived in Milwaukee, Sogard has turned limited playing time into an almost regular job. He’s starting at second base almost every night, and his current slash line with the Brewers sits at .396/.529/.623. He even added a pair of four-hit games to his stat sheet. Wha, huh?
Is There A Change With Sogard?
He’s taken plate discipline to the extreme. Sogard developed a reputation as a guy capable of working a walk rate over 10% and a strikeout rate under 10%. He’s walked in 20.6% of his plate appearances with the Brewers, and he’s only striking out 7.4% of the time. This even shows up in his plate discipline metrics. He’s only swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone 17.4% of the time. That’s over 8% lower than his career average.
When he does swing, he’s connecting with medium or hard contact over 85% of the time, which is resulting in a line drive rate over 23%.
In short, he’s not swinging at pitches outside of the zone, but when he swings at strikes he’s barreling them up.
Should Sogard Be A Regular?
Sogard is enjoying the hottest streak of his entire career. It’s clear that Sogard refined his approach at the plate. It also helps that he hits in front of an equally hot Domingo Santana, Eric Thames, and Travis Shaw. Sogard isn’t likely to hit .396 for the rest of the season, but he can contribute by filling in almost anywhere on the diamond and continuing to get on base for the Brewers’ run producers.
Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell is clearly riding the hot hand for as long as he can. Starting Sogard while he’s in the middle of a season-long hot streak allows Jonathan Villar a chance to reboot. It also solves the Brewers problems at the very top of the batting order, at least for the short term.
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Sogard needs to remain in the every day lineup, at least for the short term. If he’s starting day in and day out in July, Villar is likely to be traded before the deadline.