With home runs and diving catches, Billy McKinney seems to be quickly becoming a Brewers fan-favorite.
When the Brewers acquired Billy McKinney last year, he spent the rest of the 2020 season at the alternate training site. No fans really got a chance to see him play. All fans knew about him is that he was an outfielder that can play some first base that has bounced around a couple of times, was once a Top 100 prospect, but has failed to live up to that billing so far in his career.
Coming into this spring, that was still mostly all fans knew about him. With the offseason additions of Jackie Bradley Jr., Derek Fisher, and Tim Lopes, most figured it would be an uphill battle for the out-of-options McKinney to even make the roster. Would the Brewers actually carry five outfielders?
Yes, yes they would.
In spring training, McKinney went on an offensive tear, hitting .262 with a .891 OPS and four home runs.
McKinney earned a spot on the Brewers Opening Day roster as the fifth outfielder, but there were low expectations for playing time.
Fast-forward a few weeks and both Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are on the IL with injuries. All of a sudden the fifth outfielder becomes one of the starting three and McKinney is making the most of his opportunity.
In 15 games, McKinney has 34 ABs with a .303 batting average, .869 OPS, two home runs, four RBIs, and one spectacular diving catch.
That catch saved at least two runs for Corbin Burnes and kept the shutout intact. That allowed Burnes to extend his outing and further improve his numbers for the season.
McKinney is quickly endearing himself to Brewers fans, not only with that catch but also with his offensive firepower, which has shown up quite a bit in recent days. He has two home runs in his last two games.
Perhaps the opportunity at regular playing time is all McKinney needed to get into a groove and truly showcase his talent. He was a Top 100 prospect for a reason. However, once Cain and Yelich come back, playing time will most likely once again be hard to come by.
McKinney is four years into his big league career and was likely running out of chances when he came to Milwaukee. Now he’s getting an opportunity, and he’s earned himself a few more chances. He’s been on a good stretch, but we’ll see how long he can keep this up. Soon, he’ll be back in a reserve role with only pinch-hit opportunities and he’ll have to continue to make the most of them.
No matter what happens next, McKinney will always have that diving catch in San Diego, and the love from Brewers fans right now is real.