Milwaukee Brewers: 2018 Position Previews
Another rotating door for positions in Milwaukee is second base, where Jonathan Villar is expected to start come Opening Day. The 26-year-old middle infielder has had a very up and down career thus far. It seems as if Villar has been in the league forever because he entered the majors so young.
After a year of insane offensive production with the Brewers, Villar fell off in 2017. He finished with a wRC+ of 71, over 40 points below his solid 119 number the previous season. A lack of plate discipline was the main reason for his decline as his strikeout rate rose and his walk rate dropped.
Villar needs to get back to the .369 on-base percentage he posted in 2016 to use his most valuable asset. There is a chance the former Astros leadoff hitter returns to that form. He has begun researching the most patient hitter in the majors, Joey Votto. If learning from the best can transfer to the batter’s box, the Milwaukee Brewers will have an elite option at the top of the order.
Milwaukee will turn its already promising offense to a juggernaut if it can feature a 20-homer, 60-plus steal infielder at the top of the order. However, if Villar doesn’t regain his previous form, he won’t remain the starting second baseman for long. It doesn’t help that he struggles with his glove, which will be his downfall if he disappoints at the plate.
Barring a move through free agency or trade, the only other choice is Eric Sogard.
The goggle-laden second baseman had a quietly impressive season in 2017. He rated as an above average hitter in 299 plate appearances while contributing quality defense. The main concern with the 31-year-old is his inability to generate any kind of impact with his bat. He posted an exceptional .393 on-base percentage, 15th highest among those with 250 plate appearances. Yet his .378 slugging percentage was far below league average, measuring his obvious lack of power.
There is something to be said of having a player of Sogard’s ilk at the top of the order. Placing a hitter who gets on base as much as him at the top of the order could generate a lot of offense, especially having premier bats following. However, his lack of speed on the base paths and below average power could keep him out of the starting spot.
Second base could be one of the most interesting positional battles this whole year. In one corner, the Brewers feature a young, generational speedster with serviceable power and elite offensive potential. In the other corner, Milwaukee has an exceptional, money-ball hitter who could be the spark plug of an elite lineup. The Brewers will not be afraid of using both players, making each game day lineup decision even more intriguing.