Throughout the Stearns’ Era in Milwaukee, one thing has been constant: The Brewers place a premium on players who are versatile, and enable Craig Counsell more flexibility in the lineup he writes. Kolten Wong does just that.
Brewers Value Kolten Wong’s Defense
One of the biggest things going for Wong is his defense. The Brewers now have 3 Gold Glove winners in their starting lineup (Wong joins Cain and Yelich), and the tandem of Wong and Arcia/Urias provides elite defense up the middle that will provide more flexibility when it comes to shifts.
The Brewers already were one of the highest shifting teams (shifting 44.4% of the time, 4th in MLB last season), and with Kolten Wong replacing Keston Hiura at second base, it is possible the Brewers explore more shifts, putting Wong’s defensive skill to use.
Keston Hiura was not the best second baseman (he actually was the worst if looking at defensive runs above average over the past two seasons), however his experience at second base may be beneficial, as the Brewers could look to experiment with even more shifts.
Craig Counsell loves having flexibility in the lineup and on the field and Kolten Wong gives the Brewers just that.
What Wong’s Offense Brings To The Brewers
Craig Counsell loves to tinker with lineups. Bringing Kolten Wong on-board allows him to do just that. Wong hit leadoff 47 times for the Cardinals last season, slashing (.261/.342/.324), he may not be the prototypical leadoff hitter who hits .300, but in the immortal words of Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, he gets on base at a .333 career clip.
With Lorenzo Cain returning, it was assumed that he would hit leadoff, where he has spent most of his time in Milwaukee, however, with Wong’s experience hitting leadoff in St. Louis, the Brewers have the ability to experiment more with the lineup.
With Wong, Counsell has a hitter that he can slide into the upper part of the lineup, or can use to set the table in the lower part of the lineup. While there is no DH this season, Craig Counsell has not been afraid to put position players in the 9 slot in non-DH seasons.
Orlando Arcia has done that before, and it is possible that Craig Counsell will continue to do that this season, using Kolten Wong or Lorenzo Cain as a second leadoff hitter, working to set the table for the top of the lineup, giving Keston Hiura and Christian Yelich the opportunity to hit with more runners on base.
Even looking beyond the lineup positioning flexibility that Counsell loves, Wong is a left-handed hitter. He does not have massive power, but American Family Field does favor left-handed hitters. Wong may never be a big bopper, but playing half of his games in Milwaukee could see him hit 15 home runs, which would be a career high for him.
Kolten Wong is a major addition to the Brewers lineup. He provides elite defense that will benefit the team, and enable more flexibility both in the construction of the lineup, and who the Brewers put on the field.