Brewers: Joey Wiemer's Defense Has Been Elite Despite Offensive Struggles
By Matt Carroll
A couple years ago, Milwaukee Brewers prospect Joey Wiemer started slugging his way into fans' hearts with towering home runs seemingly every other game. It left fans wondering when they'd get to see those bombs at the big league level.
Those fans got their wish early this season. After an Opening Day injury to Luis Urias left the Brewers needing an extra position player on the roster, the former fourth round pick from the 2020 draft was added to an MLB roster for the first time in his career.
An injury to fellow 2020 draftee Garrett Mitchell handed Wiemer even more playing time, giving him the chance to launch even more homers on a regular basis. So far, though, the high octane offense has been slow to develop for the rookie.
Through the first 37 games of his career, Wiemer is slashing just .212/.282/.354. He has racked up some extra base hits, hitting seven doubles and three homers among his 24 total hits, while he has also been successful in five of six stolen base attempts. But he has also struck out 30 times while walking on only 11 occasions. All that has led to an OPS+ of just 75.
But despite the offensive struggles, Wiemer has excelled in another area of his game, one in which Brewers fans expected would be good, but maybe not this good this early.
Rookie Brewers outfielder Joey Wiemer has played some elite defense so far in 2023.
Wiemer has always had a reputation for having an absolute cannon of a throwing arm, racking up outfield assists very quickly early in his minor league career. Heck, he even had one in just his third career MLB game, albeit against the speed-challenged Daniel Vogelbach.
He also had a reputation as an above average defensive outfielder in general on top of the super strong arm. But it still might be surprising to some that Wiemer is already ranking among some of the sport's defensive greats this quickly in his young career.
Take Baseball Savant's outs above average, for example. Wiemer is already at four OAA on the season, which ties him for the most among outfielders. The two players he is tied with: Jackie Bradley Jr and Kevin Kiermaier, two outfielders with stellar defensive reputations.
The defensive runs saved rankings over at FanGraphs look just as good. Wiemer has accumulated six on the season, which ties him for third among outfielders. He sits just one behind the leaders, Teoscar Hernandez and Luis Robert.
Having a strong defensive center fielder has always been important to the Brewers. It's part of why they brought in Gold Glover Lorenzo Cain, why fellow Gold Glover Jackie Bradley Jr continued to get so much playing time a couple years ago despite providing virtually no offense, and likely why it was an easy call for the team to give the reigns there to Mitchell going into 2023.
So even as Wiemer continues to find his way at the plate, there shouldn't be any risk of him losing playing time in center field any time soon. That's because he's already among the best defensive outfielders in the league.