Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Brewers First Half Report Card: Offense

As you very well know, baseball is a team sport, not an individual sport. However, I thought it would be fun to hand out grades based off of individual performances. Here’s a breakdown of how I think each Brewers position player has performed this year.

Yuniesky Betancourt (1B, 3B); D+

While he was somehow productive for the entire month of April (I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happened there), his play has been abysmal lately. He is currently on pace to break records that nobody wants to break. His defense isn’t completely horrible at first base, but if I never have to watch him play third base ever again, it will still be too soon. There are really only 4 things that you can count on Yuni to do anymore – pop up, strike out, hits into a double play, and run slower to first base at a slower pace than Lou Piniella walking to a pitching mound. Well, it seems like that long, anyways.

Ryan Braun (LF); B+

He’s had a terribly hard time trying to stay healthy this year and he is currently on the disabled list. There were a couple weeks at the end of April and in early May when he was providing typical Ryan Braun production, but after his thumb injury really started to bother him, he began striking out in bundles. Even if this is a “down year” for Braun, he still owns a .304 batting average and has batted in 36 runs this season. He has 9 home runs on the year, and has also hit two triples. He was still getting hits consistently before landing on the disabled list, but you could tell he was having a hard time swinging the bat. Hopefully once his thumb heals up, we will see the vintage Ryan Braun back in the 3-hole.

Nori Aoki (RF); B-

He has been a pleasant surprise for the Brewers for the past couple of seasons. While he has had a couple of cold spells this year, he has been relatively consistent offensively throughout his time in the big leagues. However, he is prone to getting thrown out on the bases fairly frequently. This is something the Brewers struggle with as a team, but I’ve noticed it with Nori more than any other player. This is not a trait that you want to have in your lead-off hitter, especially with a player such as Jean Segura hitting behind him. His defense also tends to be rather shaky at times. When you look at the statistics, they tell you that he is a good defender, but when you watch him play in a game, you see otherwise. He often takes poor routes while attempting to catch fly balls that most outfielders would catch easily. He also plays very deep in the outfield (I’m not sure if this is because this is what he is comfortable with, or if it’s because the Brewers coaching staff thinks that this is what’s best) and this allows the opponents to get singles more often than they would if he wouldn’t be playing at the warning track for every single player. Overall, he has been a solid player and provides good offense as a lead-off hitter, but when you’re getting picked off bases consistently and giving away runs on defense, this offsets your offense production.

Carlos Gomez (CF); A

If you would have told me before the season that on July 2nd Gomez would have a batting average in the .300s, I would have asked you how much you have had to drink today. This is just a remarkable season for Gomez, and he keeps impressing Brewers fans more and more every day. His current splits are .309/.349/.557. His defense is also impeccable – exactly 1 fly ball has gotten over Gomez’s head this year, and that play resulted in an error. He makes playing center field look easy. (Although, after watching Nyjer Morgan play center field for the Brewers the last two seasons, a random little league player could make playing center field look easy… Kidding. Kind of). He does occasionally get picked off base when he probably shouldn’t, but he’s gotten better with that recently. He already has 16 stolen bases on the season and has only been caught stealing 3 times. He’s one of the few bright spots on the Brewers this year and I think he has a legitimate shot at finishing the year with a batting average in the .300s.

Logan Schafer (LF; CF; RF); C-

Logan saw limited playing time at the beginning of the season, but once Ryan Braun was placed on the disabled list, he’s taken over in left field for the majority of the games. While his offense hasn’t been very impressive this season, his defense has almost made up for it. He’s already gunned down 2 players at the plate this season from the outfield and covers a ton of ground on defense. He has plenty of speed, so I’m kind of surprised that he doesn’t try to bunt for base hits more often. Overall, an average/acceptable performance for someone who is trying to fill in for an MVP.

Aramis Ramirez (3B); B-

While he has been productive at times this year, he has been dealing with an injury since the beginning of the season when he slid into second base and jammed his knee in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This landed him on the disabled list and he still is not able to play every day. He currently has 47 hits, only 5 of which are homeruns. He also has 11 doubles. These aren’t exactly the kind of numbers that you want to see out of your cleanup hitter, and you have to believe that his knee injury is interfering with his power numbers this season. Hopefully he will able to regain full health and revert back to his pre-injury form.

Jean Segura (SS); A

Segura’s performance this year has probably come as an even bigger surprise to me than Gomez’s breakout year. Segura has impressed both offensively and defensively. He has struggled recently, but has delivered an outstanding performance so far this season. His current splits are .325/.358/.503. He also has 24 stolen bases on the year and has only been caught stealing 3 times. He shows incredible range at shortstop and has a very strong throwing arm; we’ve already seen him throw out plenty of base-runners from his knees. There’s not much more I can say about Segura other than he has been unbelievable this year. Poor Angels

Rickie Weeks (2B); C+

While his first six weeks or so of the season were completely terrible both offensively and defensively, he has been a hitting machine lately. I myself was about ready to give up on Weeks, but then at the beginning of June he started to prove all of the doubters wrong. He just won the Brewers’ player of the month award for June and has worked his way out of a platoon. I don’t know if some of his struggles at the plate were mental, or if the slight changes that he made to his batting mechanics helped or if there was some other reason for his struggles, but he has certainly earned his starting job back.

Jonathan Lucroy (C); A-

Lucroy also had a slow start offensively this season, but he has also been hitting a lot more recently. He is currently batting .267 and leads the team with 42 RBI. I don’t know if “clutch hitting” is real or not, but if it is, he has been the definition of clutch. Even when he was struggling, he always seemed to get his hits while there were runners in scoring position. He is also fantastic at framing the ball while catching. I gave him an A- because even though his offensive numbers aren’t as impressive as they have been in previous years, he has been very good at calling and catching games this year. People often give all of the credit to the pitchers when they have good performances, but Lucroy definitely makes the pitching staff better. (Or, should I say, not quite so horrible).

Martin Maldonado (C); C

Martín was never known for his hitting in the minor leagues, and that’s starting to show this season. He’s always been an excellent defensive catcher and has an outstanding throwing arm. His offense this season has not been good, but he’s done a good job calling and catching games. For a backup catcher, this production is about all you can ask for.

Until next time, Beer, Brats, and Championships.

- Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin)

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