Next up is two players who managed the left side of the infield. That is Willy Adames and Luis Urias.
SS Willy Adames 2022 Season Grade: A
2022 was Adames' first full season with the Brewers. After joining the team via trade in 2021, he provided a much needed spark to the team that helped propel them to a division title. Unfortunately in 2022 the team fell short of repeating that goal, but he put together an incredible season.
Adames ended up setting a Brewers home run record as a shortstop in 2022. His 31 long balls were the most by a shortstop in franchise history. In addition he contributed 98 RBI. Had he not missed a few weeks with an ankle injury, he would have surpassed the century mark in regards to RBI.
One knock on Adames' game last season was his dip in batting average. He finished the year at just .238. He also saw drops in on base percentage (.298), slugging (.458), and on base plus slugging (.756) when compared to his first season.
It is hard to know exactly why Adames saw noticeable decreases in his slash line despite being the team's best run producer. His advanced stats do not show a substantial decrease in exit velocity (-0.6% difference), his strikeout rate improved in 2022 when compared to 2021, and his fly ball percentage actually decreased. This helps debunk that maybe he wasn't hitting the ball as hard, was striking out more, or just hitting pop outs/swinging for the fences.
One statistic that significantly decreased was BABIP (batting average on balls in play). Adames' career average is .325 and in 2022 his BABIP was the lowest of his career at .278. Teams also shifted on him at the highest percentage of his career in 2022 in which he struggled mightily in such situations to the tune of a wOBA of .248. With no shift his wOBA was .350.
In 2023, teams will not be able to perform extreme defense shifts. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Adames' performance.
3B Luis Urias 2022 Season Grade: D
Urias was a pleasant surprise in 2021 as he was a key contributor on the Brewers offense. His 23 home runs and 75 RBI were career highs. As a result, he was set to become the Brewers starting everyday third basemen.
Unfortunately, Urias started the 2022 season on the injured list with a quad strain. He did not make his season debut until May 3 and struggled to get going as he had just a .223 first half batting average. His second half batting average was .260 and he played quite well offensively in September, but overall he failed to produce like the Brewers expected.
A big contributing factor to why Urias did not produce as expected is because he struggled mightily with runners in scoring position. On the year he hit just .168 in such situations and six times he hit into a double play. In 2021, Urias hit .272 with runners in scoring position.
Urias will need to play much better in 2023. Right now he is the starting third baseman, but that doesn't' mean the Brewers aren't looking to add a more impact-full bat by upgrading at the position.