Our 2020 Milwaukee Brewers report card series continues as we grade the season performance of second baseman Keston Hiura.
Like most Milwaukee Brewers hitters, 2020 was a season of ups and downs for Keston Hiura.
The book on Hiura has always been that he is a naturally gifted hitter with below-average defensive abilities. Ever since he was drafted by the Brewers 9th overall in 2017, Brewers fans have been excited about the prospect of Hiura as the second baseman of the future.
Overall, he has been very good in his first two big league seasons. However, a worrisome offensive slump in 2020 where Keston was striking out at an alarming rate has raised some questions. Examining things holistically, let’s give Hiura a grade for his first “full” big league season.
How was Keston Hiura’s defense?
Keston Hiura’s future as a full-time second baseman is murky. Hiura has a history of elbow issues dating back to his days as a college player at UC-Irvine, so his defensive abilities have been limited throughout his career. He has limited range, has trouble turning double plays, and sometimes struggles making routine throws to first base.
Those same problems resurfaced over the 2020 season. Luckily, due to the new rule change in 2020, Hiura saw some time at the designated hitter spot last season. Should the DH remain for the foreseeable future, it would not be surprising to see Hiura eventually phased into that role, or a less defensively demanding position such as first base.
That said, it is not out of the question that Hiura will make the improvements necessary to hang onto the second base job he currently owns. At 24 years old he still has plenty of time to build his skillset.
How about Hiura’s Offense?
Let’s start with the good.
Hiura led the Brewers in 2020 in home runs with 13 and RBIs with 32. Typically, that would amount to a good season for any player, but in the case of Keston Hiura, plenty of other offensive stats paint a somewhat concerning picture.
Specifically, he led the National League with 85 strikeouts in 59 games and finished with just a .297 on base percentage, pretty much officially designating his season as a sophomore slump. That is far from ideal for a guy who saw most of his at bats in the 3-hole.
If you look at his 2019 numbers, there is reason to believe Keston will improve his tendency to swing and miss at high fastballs and find some consistency in years to come. He had a 2.0 bWAR and a .303 batting average in a decent sample size of 84 games.
Keston Hiura 2020 Season Report Card
It was a somewhat disappointing season for Keston Hiura in 2020, but he is not alone in that. Countless other above-average players both within the Brewers organization and league-wide had subpar performances in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
I predict that in 2021, hopefully under more normal circumstances, Keston Hiura will look a lot more like the guy we saw in 2019 as a rookie than his sophomore campaign.