The Milwaukee Brewers have made several adjustments to their offense. How should the first three spots in the batting order look against right-handed and left-handed starters on a daily basis?
To say the Milwaukee Brewers struggled at the top of their lineup in 2017 is an understatement. In 750 plate appearances, hitters posted a .687 OPS from the top spot in the Brewers lineup with only a .320 on-base percentage. That needs to change if the Brewers are going to win the Wild Card or challenge for the NL Central. The good news is that help is already here.
Who should lead off for the Brewers in 2018?
Against right-handers, the choice is clear. Lefty Christian Yelich posted a .382 OBP against right-handers in 2017. That on-base percentage has to sit on top of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup in 2018, but what about against left-handers?
Yelich didn’t fare quite as well when he didn’t have the lefty vs. righty match up. Against left-handed pitchers, Yelich only posted a .329 on-base percentage. Eric Sogard posted a .340 OBP, and Hernan Perez posted a .342 OBP against lefties. Lorenzo Cain also managed a .347 OBP against lefties. Any one of that trio makes sense at the very top of the Brewers batting order against a lefty.
Who should bat second?
Eric Thames posted a .382 OBP against righties in 2017, but he managed a .938 OPS from the second spot in the batting order. He should start 2018 in the same spot he was comfortable in last year.
Domingo Santana appeared in the two-slot in 30 games in 2017. He managed a 1.009 OPS. He also posted a .389 OBP against lefties last year. Assuming he isn’t dealt for a starting pitcher, Santana should be near the top of the order against left-handers more often than not.
The third man in the order has to be Ryan Braun, right?
Ryan Braun posted a .836 OPS from the three-slot in 2017 with an OPS over .800 against both lefties and righties. He’s still a solid run producer, even heading into his age 34 season. If he’s healthy, he should probably still hit third until he proves he can’t handle it any more. However, Lorenzo Cain produced an .824 OPS against lefties and an .811 OPS when batting third. If Braun is on the DL, Cain can slide into the third spot in the order and provide similar production.
The additions of Cain and Yelich are sure to improve an area where the Milwaukee Brewers struggled in 2017. The hitters at the top of the order are now more likely to get on base and produce. If only they could find that elusive ace starting pitcher they’ve been searching for.