Despite being in a major slump, the Milwaukee Brewers desperately need Keston Hiura, and they cannot simply give up on him.
There are no better options.
When Keston Hiura is right, there will be few hitters in the big leagues that can match the production levels he will put up. We saw that in 2019, when he burst onto the scene with a .303 average and 19 home runs in just 84 games.
The man can hit. We know that. But right now, he isn’t.
In 62 at-bats, Hiura has just nine hits, six walks, and 25 strikeouts. To put it bluntly, it’s been painful to watch.
Even with all the struggles, the Brewers need to put Keston Hiura out there and get him going offensively. The team needs him.
After the free agent departures of Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal, the Brewers offense lacked thumpers in the lineup surrounding Christian Yelich. The Brewers front office was banking on a young Keston Hiura, who just hit 19 homers in half a season in 2019, to jump right in and fill that role.
Although Hiura did lead the team in home runs last year, the rest of his numbers didn’t look good, and now in 2021, things are looking far worse. While still the Brewers offense lacks thumpers surrounding Yelich, who hasn’t hit a home run himself yet this year.
To replace Moustakas and Grandal, the Brewers went out and got Avisail Garcia and Omar Narvaez, both solid hitters, but with considerably less power potential than the previous duo. That left Hiura to carry the bulk of the load in the power department hitting behind Yelich. So far, Hiura hasn’t been able to carry that load.
Yet, they still need him to.
The Brewers didn’t overhaul their offense this past offseason, instead sticking with most of their 2020 group and the players they added, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kolten Wong, aren’t big power threats. Travis Shaw has big power potential in the middle of the lineup, but it remains to be seen if he can come fully back from his major slump to start the 2019 season. He’s looked good so far, but as much as 62 at-bats for Hiura doesn’t make or break him, the same can be said for Shaw in his 74 ABs.
Former pro scout and current Bally Sports WI analyst Vinny Rottino talked about this on a recent Cold Brew Podcast episode.
Whatever it is that’s causing this slump for Hiura, the Brewers need to let him figure it out. The only way to do that is by giving him at-bats and letting him swing. He can’t work his way out of a slump on the bench. What’s best for him is likely going to be working through his struggles at the big league level, and not trying to work through it in the minor leagues either.
Sometimes all it takes to get locked in is one good swing. One swing where everything clicks into place, solid contact is made, and a light bulb goes off in your head. After that, things can be smooth sailing from there.
The Brewers don’t really have better options. Daniel Vogelbach has plenty of power potential to fill the role, but he also strikes out at a high clip and won’t hit for a high average like Hiura can. Billy McKinney can play first, but it also remains to be seen if he can consistently hit the ball. The highest ceiling of any of these three is Hiura. They want to get him going. They need to get him going.
Like it or not, the best path forward, for both Hiura and the Brewers, is to keep him in the lineup and give him a chance to get into a groove.
They need that second big power hitter behind a healthy Yelich in the lineup. If this offense is going to win in October, they need that kind of juice. Hiura is one of the few that has that kind of power and hitting ability.