Brewers to watch at spring training: Jace Peterson
A less-intuitive player to watch this spring is Jace Peterson. Peterson, who generally plays a utility role, was a reliable bat at times last season. Despite his flexible role, he could be an important player to watch due to Luis Urias’ injury. We don’t know exactly how long this injury will sideline Urias, so Peterson is one of the front runners to fill his spot.
Though there are other candidates to fill the vacancy, if Peterson is seeing the ball like he did at his high points in 2021, he would be the logical choice. Peterson, famous for his high OBP, may get the nod from Counsell who is ever-mindful of the value of putting the ball in play and getting on base.
Additionally, Counsell has worked with Peterson before and knows how to use him. For a preview of who may temporarily fill Urias’s vacancy, look to see if Jace Peterson is hitting his stride during Spring Training.
Brewers to watch during spring training: Christian Yelich
The biggest concern for the Brewers early on in the 2022 season is how to get Christian Yelich back to his All-Star status. It’s no secret that Yelich has struggled over the previous two seasons. After back-to-back MVP-caliber seasons in 2018 and 2019, in which he hit 36 and 44 home runs respectively, his contact and power at the plate have diminished significantly. His OPS dropped from an astonishing 1.100 in 2019 to a career-low .736 in 2021.
One reason Brewers fans can be hopeful is that Yelich will have a fresh start with new hitting coaches, Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson, this year. Perhaps their perspective may help kickstart Yelich’s bat. Another reason to be optimistic is that Yelich is confident in himself. He’s not fooling himself about his recent struggles and is determined to get back on track.
Brewers fans should watch Yelich closely this spring to see how comfortable he is at the plate. He hasn’t had an abundance of opportunities so far, but he does have 3 hits and a walk in 9 plate appearances. All of the hits have been for singles, so we haven’t seen the booming home runs or doubles to the wall that we’re used to, but it’s nice to see that he’s making good contact.
Even if Yelich can only bring back the offensive numbers he put up with the Marlins, where his slugging percentage was nothing special but his batting average hovered around .300, it would be a great benefit to the Brewers’ offense.
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While his early opportunities may be a good sign of things to come, nine plate appearances are not nearly enough to project Yelich’s entire season. So be sure to keep watching his at-bats this spring.