It's not working out. Both sides wanted it to work, it seemed like a match made in heaven, things started off hot, but as time has gone on, the connection just seemed to fizzle out and at this point it's best for both parties to just separate and move on.
Yes, I'm talking about the marriage between Keston Hiura and the Milwaukee Brewers.
When the Brewers drafted Keston Hiura with the 9th overall pick in 2017, the hype immediately began. Hiura was regarded as the best pure hitter in the draft that year and even with injuries and a lack of a defensive home, it was always believed Hiura would hit enough that none of his flaws as a player would matter.
For a while, that was true.
Hiura flew through the minor leagues, dominating every step of the way, quickly reaching the big leagues in 2019, where he put up a .303 batting average with a .938 OPS. The future was bright and we thought it would only get brighter. Instead, Hiura took a downward turn.
The primary concern with Hiura has been his ever-increasing strikeout percentage. In 2019, Hiura had a 30.8% K rate. He then led the league in strikeouts in the shortened 2020 season and punched out 34.6% of the time. In 2021, that number climbed to 39.1% and in 2022, Hiura eclipsed the dreaded 40% threshold with a 41.7% K rate.
Keston Hiura isn't getting better with the Brewers and isn't going to get the opportunity he needs to succeed here. Hiura needs a change of scenery and the Brewers need to improve their roster.
Hiura has gone from the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft to now striking out over 40% of the time. How did we get here? Every year, no matter what the Brewers may try or Hiura may try, his strikeout problem only gets worse. It's been three seasons now of poor performance at the plate. How much longer can they try to make this work?
Along with the high strikeout rate, Keston Hiura has extreme splits between righties and lefties. Hiura is terrible against LHPs. He's a career .201 hitter with a lowly .606 OPS against southpaws in his career. Yet against righties, Hiura is hitting .254 with an .840 OPS. But in 2022, the Brewers continued to force him into the lineup against lefties and seemingly refused to play him against righties.
The Brewers were trying to force a square peg through a round hole. Hiura is not a typical platoon righty that can hit lefties well. As a right handed hitter, he needs to hit mostly against righties. That doesn't make for an easy platoon, but his performance also isn't worthy of playing everyday no matter what.
To make matters worse, Hiura brings almost nothing defensively. Remember what I said earlier, that it was always believed that Hiura would hit enough that none of his flaws would matter. Now he's not hitting enough, and his flaws are a big problem. They were always there, we just ignored them because of how hot he was at the plate all the time. Now he's not hot, and the flaws are obvious and ugly.
Hiura cannot throw well and isn't great with the glove. He could be a mildly serviceable first baseman at best, but his height and body size isn't ideal for the position, especially when Rowdy Tellez is also on the roster. He can't play second base. The outfield isn't a good home either for his poor throwing arm, plus the Brewers already have Christian Yelich in left field and a number of outfield prospects needing reps out there. So where do you play him? DH? He doesn't even hit enough to do that.
So where is Hiura's home on this roster? It doesn't appear he has one.
For all these reasons, the Brewers and Hiura need to divorce. The Brewers should trade Hiura for whatever they can get and allow another team to try to rejuvenate his career. It's tough to give up on Hiura when the Brewers know the talent is in there and they don't want to see another team reap the rewards from their effort over the years. But it's the best course of action at this point.
Because the Brewers refused to use Hiura in situations that would be best suited for him and instead tried to force him to be something he's not leads me to believe they are out of ideas on how to fix him. Usually, the Brewers are good at finding what a player does best and maximizing that, but they don't appear willing to do that with Hiura.
With Jon Singleton now on the 40 man roster, the Brewers will be covered at 1B/DH if they decide to move on from Hiura. That could at least partly be why they decided to add Singleton in the first place.
It's a tough pill to swallow, but the Brewers need to move on from Keston Hiura and Hiura needs to find a team that will work with him on his flaws as a player, give him the space to work through his struggles, and put him in a situation to succeed.