Milwaukee Brewers: Time For A Change At First Base?

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 04: Eric Thames
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 04: Eric Thames /

The Milwaukee Brewers are in a six game skid right now and the offense has gone stagnant. The division race has tightened up in the span of less than a week. But there could be a way to jumpstart this offense.

Eric Thames had one of the hottest starts in recent memory this year. In April, he hit .345/.466/.810 with 11 home runs and 18 walks. He took baseball by storm. The Milwaukee Brewers had seemingly found a diamond in the rough in Thames’ return from Korea. Unfortunately, Thames went pretty cold after April ended.

We all knew he wouldn’t be able to continue the pace he set in April, but it was an extreme fall to Earth. In May, he hit .221/.375/.416 with 3 homers and only 9 RBIs. His high OBP was due to drawing 16 walks. He only struck out 22 times that month, so he still had good plate discipline. But June was disastrous.

In June, Thames hit .163/.267/.402 with six home runs. Most of those homers came in a five day stretch which was a similar run he had in April. But he struck out 39 times in June and he didn’t look the same. He’s begun to chase pitches that he wasn’t back in April. He was looking more and more like the Eric Thames of 2012 that swung at everything. Thames hasn’t hit a home run since July 4 and has struck out 19 times since that day as well.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers have another first baseman on the roster, Jesus Aguilar. He’s been producing lately. He’s been a consistent bat, while mostly off the bench, but he’s earned some starts in place of the struggling Thames.

Let’s take a look at the numbers of these two players.

Aguilar: 182 AB, 54 H, 13 2B, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 15 BB, 57 K, .297/.360/.538

Thames: 303 AB, 76 H, 17 2B, 23 HR, 44 RBI, 53 BB, 103 K, .251/.369/.541 line

So in a little more than 120 extra at-bats that Thames has over Aguilar he provides a marginal increase in production in every stat but homers and walks. But as stated earlier, he hasn’t gone yard since providing the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Since April, Thames overall average is .214 with 12 homers, 25 RBIs, and 80 strikeouts. That’s not good. In fact, that’s pretty bad. And since Thames hits in the second spot in the lineup almost every day, that’s not a place for a player with that kind of stat line.

Aguilar is hitting nearly .300 and is just shy of double digit home runs on the season. That’s good output for someone with less than 200 ABs on the season. But it’s time to get him some more opportunities. The offense has run dry, unable to score 4+ runs in any of the past six games. Perhaps Aguilar can provide a spark with some regular playing time.

Thames and his beard had become something of a cult hero in Milwaukee after his impressive return to MLB. But it may be time to wake up and smell the roses. Thames isn’t producing and Aguilar is. Craig Counsell may just need to go with the hot hand and insert Aguilar into the starting lineup on a regular basis. The Milwaukee Brewers can’t afford to continue playing like this if they wish to hold onto the division lead.

There are too many players on this roster that haven’t been having productive seasons for this offensive success to continue. Namely, Keon Broxton, Jonathan Villar, and Ryan Braun who aren’t having good seasons and that hurts the ball club. It’s time we add Thames to that list.

Next: Eric Sogard, the X factor

Aguilar seemingly came out of nowhere in Spring Training and he was thought to be a nice depth add off the waiver wire. But now, he may need to take over the starting role to jumpstart this offense.