What are the available options?
Some key players other than Aguilar and Thames who could effectively play first base on the Milwaukee Brewers roster are Yasmani Grandal, Travis Shaw, Hernan Perez (not ideal, but he can play any position), and another person who could be an X-factor, Ryan Braun, who got some playing time at first base at the beginning of last year.
It would be surprising if Braun went back to playing first, but it would also be intriguing given the fact that it would give Ben Gamel some more well deserved time in the starting lineup. Gamel has been another great offseason addition along with Grandal and Mike Moustakas, and this would give him more at bats and fill the hole that the two first baseman are creating.
As far as Travis Shaw goes, he will be returning on the next homestand, but he was struggling mightily before his injury, and both Moustakas and Shaw’s replacement Keston Hiura are hitting well, so if you want Shaw to get some opportunities, you could put him over at first. This would not be surprising at all, and keeping Hiura in the lineup would be a plus, but Shaw, despite his past successes, currently has a lot to prove and show that he is going to be a consistent hitter again.
Is there a better option?
One great option would be Yasmani Grandal, as he has been a stellar addition to the Brew Crew’s lineup this season, and is in contention to be voted into the all star game given his numbers. In addition to his position of catcher, he is capable of playing first base, and given the current state of the team, Craig Counsell may consider giving him some time there.
After going 4-6 in the opening game in Pittsburgh, he has 12 home runs to go along with a .281 batting average, 1.2 WAR, and an impressive .922 OPS. Defensively, he has caught 48 out of 57 games, and played just one game at first. Lately it’s been all him at catcher due to Manny Pina being injured, and multiple team off days that allowed him to not be in need of a personal day off. He will get relief soon though, as Pina is set to return during this series in Pittsburgh.
Offensively, the Braun at first strategy is better than Grandal/Pina, as Pina has just six hits in 45 at bats this season, and is also a base running liability with his lack of speed. However, there are two aspects of Grandal playing first that help the Brewers: Keeping Grandal’s bat in the lineup when he needs an off day from catching, and more importantly, Pina’s defense from the catcher position.