The Brewers initial lineup against left-handed pitchers may have surprised some people due to the shake up in the batting order. Here, we will take a further look and provide some stats to know that may or may not help back up Counsell’s decision making.
Here is the initial lineup that the Brewers are using this year against left-handed pitchers.
Keep in mind, if there is anything we know about Craig Counsell managerial strategy it is that this lineup against left handed pitchers will likely vary drastically over the course of the season.
For now, let’s take a look at some interesting stats surrounding each player inserted in the Brewers lineup when facing a left handed pitcher.
Leading off is Andrew McCutchen. A big reason the Brewers signed him was to improve their offense against left handed pitchers. The rationale behind inserting him at leadoff may be that he has a career .403 OBP when facing southpaws. He also possesses great speed, is a power threat, and I would not be surprised to frequently see him in scoring position to begin games should he continue to hit leadoff against lefties.
From a statistical standpoint, Adames batting second is a bit puzzling. Throughout his career he has an 82 OPS+ against lefties. He was slightly better than this in 2021 at 89, but more than likely his ability to change the game/hit in the clutch is why Counsell is leaving him up in the order.
At third is Christian Yelich. In 2021, Yelich hit just .187 against lefties. His ability to hit in these matchups has been a bit of a roller-coaster throughout his career. For instance, during his MVP season he had a higher batting average (.337) against left handed pitchers when compared to right. Yelich hitting third to begin the season is likely largely due to giving him a chance to return to form. Should he falter in these matchups as this season progresses, he may start to drop in the lineup.
The next three batters are all right handed. Renfroe is a proven monster against lefties in which he has a career 129 OPS+. At fifth is Hiura, who historically has hit better against righties than lefties. However, with Rowdy Tellez being a left handed batter and Hiura having a great spring training, it looks like he will get a chance to earn a platoon spot to begin the year. Last out of the right handed trio is Tyrone Taylor. Like Renfroe, he too excels at hitting against southpaws with a 108 career OPS+ and .484 slugging percentage.
One of the bigger surprises was Kolton Wong dropping into the seventh spot.
In 2021, Wong was the Brewers leadoff hitter no matter who was on the mound. This was a role he excelled at and in fact he never batted anywhere else in the lineup last year when he started the game. His stats last year show that he nearly hit .300 against lefties but drew significantly fewer base on balls in the matchup when compared to right handed pitchers. Perhaps this is one reason why Craig Counsell elected to initially drop him in the lineup.
Batting eighth in the lineup is Mike Brosseau. He has shown the ability to hit for power in these situations. Having a power threat this far down in the lineup is a big bonus for the Brewers and shows the increased depth of their lineup. Hitting in the final spot is recently acquired Victor Caratini. With Narvaez being a left handed batter, Caratini is likely to get the vast majority of starts when a left handed pitcher is on the mound.
As mentioned, this lineup is likely to change several times over the course of the season. Manager Craig Counsell is a master at putting players in positions to succeed, so for now we will have to see how things play out throughout the course of the season.