Milwaukee Brewers: Craig Counsell and his Nine Reindeer
You know Dasher and Dancer? Prancer and Vixen? I will go through the rest later. But they are a grand and seasonal metaphor for the Milwaukee Brewers.
That’s right, nine reindeer and nine members of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. The question is, who is which reindeer? I could skip around and match names from the team and Santa’s crew, but for the sake of Christmas I will be going in order.
First an foremost is the fearless leader who leads the pack. This is obviously Craig Counsell. This one is a simple connection. The rest are his lineup for the coming year.
You know Dasher, he is the first reindeer of the bunch. He bats leadoff, if you will. Just like I think SS Orlando Arcia will. That’s right, he makes the great jump from the eight hole to be hitting leadoff in 2018. And why not, he boasts an OBP above .300.
Number two. This is a tricky one. But, I have to base this judgement off of the current Brewers roster. So, hitting second to start the year is CF Keon Broxton. Now, he may very well get traded. But if he is there, he will start the year in center. His 20/20 potential makes him a better two hitter than leadoff.
The coveted three hole. This one might be just a little obvious, but 3B Travis Shaw takes the cake. He proves to be the Milwaukee Brewers most consistent bat throughout year prior. That is what earns him this spot.
In the four hole is a guy with a lot of power and the tools to use it. Some may say that LF Domingo Santana should be in the three hole. However, his strikeout numbers tell a different story. He can cleanup the bases, but he can also help any pitcher with his K/9. And yes, he is in left field.
Eric Thames is in the five hole and playing first. Despite his clear ability to hit at the beginning of last year, he fell off in the second half. Regardless, the hope is that he will start off quickly once again. He is still a great hitter though, so he fills out the meat of the order.
This is somewhat tricky. But I think the six spot has to go to C Manny Pina. His .279 2017 average sets him up to be the starting backstop. Not to mention he is better on defense than Stephen Vogt. He is a clear cut answer for the six spot.
Perhaps the hardest spot in the lineup for me to fill. It is almost dead tie in my mind for who gets it. Ultimately the seven spot goes to 2B Jonathan Villar. He is better than Eric Sogard, and I don’t think Mauricio Dubon will be ready in time. I also believe firmly that there should be speed in the seven hole, and Villar has that in bunches.
Batting eighth for your Milwaukee Brewers is RF Brett Phillips. He takes over right field which is why Santana moves to left. With his arm it would be a crime to keep him out of right field. His bat will prove very lucrative too. He absolutely needs to be in the Opening Day lineup.
This spot belongs to the nine hole, and the pitcher. I don’t think there is any doubt that Chase Anderson will fill out the lineup in game one. He will be tasked with shutting down the San Diego Padres.
Who Gets Left In The North Pole?
There are clearly some pieces here to debate. The two guys I thought most about were Ryan Braun and Lewis Brinson. Both could be in the lineup. But there is one reason each that I left them out of it.
For Braun, he is past his prime. He can still hit, I can recognize that. But his bat will be more helpful if he is healthy. The best way to do that is bring him in to pinch hit, and make him a part time fielder. He is an excellent DH candidate, but the NL does not oblige that. So part time pinch hitter is his best role.
Brinson is a different story. His entire career is in front of him. With Broxton still in Milwaukee, I see the top prospect starting in Triple A. He did not play well enough in his first MLB taste to be considered as must have, and he spent the end of 2017 injured. He doesn’t need to spend a long time there, but I doubt he will start in the MLB.
This lineup is good. If everyone builds upon what they did last season, then this young lineup will compete with anyone in the league. From top to bottom are trustworthy bats who can get the job done. Watch out for the Milwaukee Brewers.