The Milwaukee Brewers officially acquired second baseman Neil Walker on August 12th. Since his arrival, he’s proven himself as the ‘lightning-in-a-bottle’ addition GM David Stearns was hoping to catch. How good has he been? Let’s take a look…
In nine games in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform, Neil Walker has only 28 at-bats, but he’s already racked up 12 hits. His slash line is .429/.515/.571 with a homer, five RBIs and three runs scored. He isn’t the lead off hitter the Brew Crew needs, but he has delivered when the team needs a boost.
Can Walker Keep This Up?
Hitting .400 with a .500 OBP? No. Other than maybe Barry Bonds in the middle of one of his cycles, no one is going to maintain that level of production. Walker should continue to start somewhere in the infield, but he’s not going to stay this hot for the rest of the year. As soon as the liners and grounders that Walker has been hitting find gloves, his hot streak will end.
Walker has shown throughout his career that he’s a solid run producer at a position that doesn’t traditionally produce runs. He can continue to add balance to the bottom half of the Brewers lineup, but he’s not going to end the year with an OPS over 1.000.
Don’t The Brewers Have Several Option At Second Base?
Yes, actually, they do. The problem is that they all have the same weakness. Walker needs to start every day against right-handers. However, they also have Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard available. Villar is a switch hitter who is awful against lefties. Sogard is a lefty that rarely plays against lefties. Walker is the best option the Brewers have, but they can’t play him every day while Villar and Sogard sit. While Walker is better at hitting lefties than Sogard and Villar, that’s not really an accomplishment. He’s competent against lefties, while the other two aren’t.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell will have to handle the situation as best he can. He needs to fit Walker into the lineup as often as possible, while still finding opportunities for the other guys. Sogard and Villar have usually hit near the top of the lineup, while Walker is more comfortable hitting behind the heart of the order.
There isn’t a perfect solution. Counsell is going to have to mix and match, play match ups as best he can, and hope for the best. Counsell has an imperfect roster that will require him to get creative down the stretch as the Milwaukee Brewers try to keep pace with the Cubs.