Milwaukee Brewers: Why is Eric Thames Batting Leadoff?

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 17: Eric Thames
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 17: Eric Thames /

The Milwaukee Brewers have had many different lineup combinations this season due to constant roster changes, injuries, and the surplus of players at certain positions. Recently, first baseman and outfielder Eric Thames has started to hit leadoff, shaking up the lineup once again.

Many Milwaukee Brewers fans were curious as to why Thames would be the leadoff hitter. This is mainly because Lorenzo Cain is the normal leadoff hitter and he seems to fit that role very well. Cain is a guy who will get on base a lot either by drawing walks or getting base hits. And when he gets on base, he is very capable of stealing the next bag as well.

Thames, on the other hand, is much more of a power hitter. He’ll produce runs by hitting homers and having a high slugging percentage, but he won’t hit many singles or steal many bases. However, Thames does get on base by walking quite a bit, and he does help that way. But Cain walks plenty as well, and is a much better base runner than Thames is.

When Thames bats leadoff, Lorenzo Cain is typically dropped to the third spot in the lineup. While this arrangement has worked at times, Cain is a much better fit in the leadoff spot. He is someone you want to start the rally so that the run producers such as Thames, Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw can drive him in with his speed around the bases.

Styles of Play

That’s not to say Cain isn’t capable of being more of a run producer and driving other guys home, but his play style is much more suited to the leadoff role, and Thames’ to the middle of the lineup. Cain has been one of the Brewers best hitters in general this season, and hitting him leadoff gets him the most at bats as possible.

It’s also not to say Thames is a terrible leadoff hitter. It’s just to say that certain spots in the lineup require players to have a different approach at the plate. These two in these spots don’t fit their styles as well as the other spots do. Thames is more strikeout prone than Cain is and that is okay when you can produce runs like he can, but you’d rather that not be from the leadoff spot.

Eric Thames batting lead off is only one of the many different combinations of the Brewers lineup used by Craig Counsell, but this arrangement seems to be a little less ideal than the “normal” lineup.

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The Milwaukee Brewers offense has been extremely inconsistent this season, but when it’s going well, it’ll put up scary numbers. Leaving Cain as the lead off man and putting Thames in a run producing role in the middle of the lineup will help with that cause.