Brewers: Cactus Crew Bats Finding The Sweet Spot So Far in 2021
25 games into Spring Training action, the Milwaukee Brewers lead the MLB in OPS and are second in home runs and slugging percentage. Coming off a year where scoring runs seemed tougher than pulling teeth, Milwaukee players, fans, coaches and executives alike have to feel optimistic for the upcoming season.
I’m not saying the 2021 Brewers will be the forthcoming of Harvey’s Wallbangers by any means. For reference, the Detroit Tigers led all of Spring Training in home runs in 2020 then proceeded to finish 23rd out of 30 teams in the same category during the regular season. It’s just a pleasant surprise to see some guys finding the barrel with much more frequency than last year.
So who are some of the Brewers that are getting the most practice on their home run trot in 2021 Cactus League? Let’s take a look.
22 players have hit at least one home run during their time in Arizona already. Tied for the lead at the top of the team’s leaderboard is Billy McKinney. McKinney has never really been a huge power guy, he’s just making solid contact and making the most of his opportunity.
Five games into Spring, he was hitting as low as .083 but has raised his average to .270 and even had a game with two home runs. He’s making it hard on the decision-makers when they come to a conclusion on who makes the Opening Day roster.
Last year’s home run leader, Keston Hiura, is tied for the lead with McKinney while four players are tied for second on the team with three home runs. And while you might’ve been able to predict two of them before spring training started, the other one might come as a surprise.
Avisail Garcia, Omar Narvaez, Christian Yelich and Kolten Wong (yes you read that right) have all encountered tons of success at the dish so far.
Hiura has been one of the better run producers with nine RBI’s to his name so far and that will be his role moving forward in the regular season. Garcia (.300 avg) and Narvaez (.321 avg) are both displaying encouraging at bats after a tough 2020 year. And 2018 NL MVP Yelich is showing shades of his former self which is dangerous news for any opposing pitcher.
Wong has been one the major surprises in terms of the long ball so far and it’s really only just recently that he’s shown this pop. He’s homered in three of his last five games including one off southpaw, Clayton Kershaw.
Interestingly enough, Wong only has 10 career regular season big flies against lefties for his career in 676 plate appearances, so doing it off one of the most decorated pitchers in the game is quite promising.
Other guys that you might’ve guessed to have a home run or two are Travis Shaw (2), Manny Pina (2), Tyrone Taylor (2) and Daniel Vogelbach (1). And there are a few guys that have shown some surprise pop including Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang and Luis Urias who is putting together much better at-bats as of late.
Last year was the first time since 2016 that the Brewers didn’t finish Top 10 in home runs in a season so hopefully there isn’t a regular season drought coming similar to the Tigers from last year. Bernie Brewer did just get a new chalet though and by the looks of it now, he’ll have plenty of chances to get familiar with the new slide.