Coming off a breakout season in which he swiped 62 bases, Jonathan Villar was expected to be the main second baseman for the Brewers this season. However, a horrid start to the season saw the speedster move into a bench role.
General Manager David Stearns even went as far as acquiring a pair of second baseman to plug the hole that was supposed to be filled by Villar. Eric Sogard came out of the gate hot upon his arrival to the Milwaukee Brewers, and Neil Walker picked up where he left off after changing teams in mid-August.
It seems the tide has changed now. Villar is in the midst of a hot stretch at the plate, as he’s slashing .393/.413/.590 with three home runs and three stolen bases since August 10.
He also managed to work his way back into a consistent starting role as a result. In order to get his hot bat in the lineup on a nightly basis, Manager Craig Counsell is employing him in center field, one of the less productive positions for the team throughout the season.
What does this mean for the Brewers?
For one, Villar returning to his previous form gives the team the opportunity to mix and match lineups. Walker has an extensive injury history, Eric Thames continues to regress, and Sogard has trouble with left-handed pitching. Villar’s resurgence allows Counsell to plug him in various places in the field and the lineup in order to bring out each player’s strengths.
It also improves the output for the team in center field. Keon Broxton does have 20/20 season in tow, but his contact issues forced his batting average into the low .200’s. With Villar in center, suddenly that spot on the field isn’t a black hole void of production. It comes at the detriment of the team’s outfield defense, though, something that could come back to bite them.
One other pro is the timing of this occurrence. With the Brewers in the midst of the playoff chase, getting an extra boost from a multi-dimensional player like Villar is just the thing that can push them over the edge for either a Wild Card berth or a division championship.
Although he started slowly, it’s safe to say Jonathan Villar is back. Whether he’s in center field, at second base, or coming off the bench as a pinch runner, this is just what the doctor ordered for the Brewers.