It’s almost here, Brewers fans! Today marks just one week until the beginning of the 2021 MLB regular season. Fans will be in the stands again (albeit a limited number of them) and Milwaukee will begin their quest for a fourth straight playoff appearance, increasing a franchise record.
The Brewers have spent this spring looking to get several players who underperformed on offense back on track for 2021, as well as acclimating some new names and faces into the lineup. April 1st will be the unveiling of that hard work.
So now as we get closer to Opening Day 2021, we’re all probably starting to wonder what that first starting lineup of the year will look like. Who will the starters be that day? Where will they line up in the batting order?
Here is our shot at predicting the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day starting lineup.
1. 2B Kolten Wong
The first “tough” decision comes right off the bat. Though ex-Brewer Eric Sogard led off for the Brewers to kick off the 2020 season, current Brewer Lorenzo Cain held that honor the previous two seasons. So now that he is back from his 2020 opt out, why not slot him back in the spot for 2021?
Part of it is not knowing his availability (more on that later), but part is also that newly acquired second baseman Kolten Wong has been just so darn good at it so far in spring training. The former Cardinal just hit his third Cactus League leadoff bomb on Wednesdsay and his propensity for doing that recently landed him as a “stud” on our week 3 Cactus League studs and duds piece.
Wong’s .356 on base percentage over the last four years combined with decent speed means he will likely spend plenty of time towards the top of the lineup. Some games could see Cain leadoff with Wong flipping to the two hole, but for starters, we’re saying that Wong takes that first Brewers at bat of the 2021 season.
2. 1B Keston Hiura
Some could question whether you would go with Keston Hiura or Christian Yelich here, and rightly so. Yelich held down the two hole for quite some time, playing 100 games there in 2019 before flipping to the three spot prior to his season-ending knee injury. Last season, the two switched off in the two hole with Yelich starting 35 games there and Hiura starting 25.
However, a glimpse into a spring training trend may hold the answer to this question. In the last three games in which Hiura and Yelich have both played, it’s been Hiura batting second with Yelich coming to the plate after him.
After a bit of a slow start this spring, Hiura has been looking better of late as he is up to three home runs and a .837 OPS in Cactus League play. He still needs to tone down the strikeouts (he’s tied for the team lead with 13) but either way, he will provide plenty of RBI opportunities for the middle of the lineup.
3. LF Christian Yelich
With Hiura occupying the two hole, that makes this the one no-brainer on the list. Batting your best hitter third is a time-honored tradition, making this a perfect spot for the 2018 (and should’ve been 2019, but I digress) National League MVP, Christian Yelich.
Seeing Yelich here is a little bittersweet in ways because this was a spot that had been taken up for so many years by Ryan Braun. The legendary Brewer made 1407 of his 1671 career starts batting third, so perhaps this represents a bit of a passing of the torch in a sense.
Yelich has been straight mashing in Cactus League so far, batting .450 with a 1.542 OPS with a pair of doubles and three homers, not to mention just four strikeouts. He looks ready to put a disappointing 2020 season behind him and do tons of damage as the No. 3 hitter.