Milwaukee Brewers: The Case for Keeping Keon Broxton

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 15: Keon Broxton
MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 15: Keon Broxton /

Keon Broxton seems to be one of the most likely players to be moved ahead of the 2018 season. Despite this, is it the right move for the Milwaukee Brewers to make?

Reviewing the Brew recently investigated trades that would send Keon Broxton to Seattle…and  Detroit…and Kansas City. Yeah, we really don’t think Broxton will be around much longer. However, there certainly are reasons why the speedy center fielder should stick around for another year in Milwaukee.

Keon Broxton’s Defense

Sure, Broxton batted just .220, but that’s not where his true value lies. His work in center field is very valuable to a contending team like the Brewers. Granted, he led the league in errors by a center fielder with seven. He also produced below-average figures in defensive runs saved and total fielding runs.

However, his numbers get a bit skewed due to his excellent range. His speed grants him more fielding opportunities than most other players, as he’s able to reach balls no one else normally would get to.

According to Statcast, Broxton was actually worth nine outs above average. This was good enough for 11th in the league in that category. He also made more catches (86%) than expected (82%) based on how average fielders perform. Per this metric, he’s definitely above average with the glove.

Beside making the plays he was supposed to make, Broxton also made truly spectacular plays. Statcast’s Catch Probability Leaderboard rated four of his catches as five-star efforts this past year. This mark tied for the fourth-highest total in all of baseball in 2017.

He also missed just three outs on opportunities with better than a 50 percent likelihood of being an out, which was better than some defensive savants ranked ahead of him like Ender Inciarte and Mookie Betts. Although some of the more traditional metrics don’t work in his favor, Broxton’s defense is reason alone to keep him with the Milwaukee Brewers, even in a reserve role.

Keon Broxton’s Speed

Another major facet of Broxton’s game is his speed. Of course, 21 steals last season speaks for itself. Beside that, the center fielder’s efficiency in his base-stealing is also quite good. While it took a bit of a downturn in 2017, Broxton actually ranked fourth in stolen base percentage in the National League in 2016.

He also managed two more steals that season despite playing roughly half as many games as last season. If he were used as a frequent pinch runner a la Terrance Gore of the Kansas City Royals, Broxton could shine.

His pure speed also makes for some impressive Statcast metrics. Broxton averaged a sprint speed of 29.5 feet per second in 2017. This placed him eighth in the majors, as well as fifth among center fielders. All this places him in the upper echelon of runners in the big leagues, something the Milwaukee Brewers shouldn’t take lightly.

Keon Broxton’s Bat

Yes, I realize he hit .220 last season. I also realize he struck out nearly 40 percent of the time. Nonetheless, even a slight reduction in the strikeout department could make him a valuable asset. He posted a healthy walk rate each of the past two seasons, and his .200 ISO in 2017 is nothing to scoff at. I doubt he’ll ever be the pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar was this season, but Broxton’s power/speed combo could play up in a fourth outfielder or bench bat role.

Next: An update on Giancarlo Stanton rumors

There certainly is a logjam in the Milwaukee Brewers outfield heading into 2017. Trading Broxton would solve the problem, but keeping him as a depth piece has its merits as well. Who knows; if a plethora of injuries strike the Brewers during the ensuing playoff run, maybe Broxton will come up big and lead the team to a championship. Or maybe he’ll strike out over 40 percent of the time. Either way, his upside is undeniable, and it could even work well in a part-time role.