It is the best side versus the worst side for the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers infield. On the left side is two players with job security and talent. On the other side is a 1000 piece blue sky jigsaw puzzle with 50 or so pieces missing. I will go from the good to the bad to the WTF.
Short Stop – With the infield being bi-polar in nature, Jean Segura suffered through a well documented bi-polar 2013 season. Last week, I looked at the significance of his first and second half stats and found most of his struggles were batted ball related (small bit of BB% decline). Looking over his batted ball data, I found one interesting fact, Segura home run power came from fastballs up in the zone. Here are his fastball home run heat maps from the season’s 1st and 2nd half.
The difference is pretty obvious, Segura hit seven of his home runs off fastballs high or right down the middle of the strikezone.
Pitchers noticed the trend and began to throw their fastballs lower. Here are the totals and locations of fastballs in the two halves.
It is a little tough to see the differences, but pitches in the bottom 1/5 increased by 4% points. Segura owners need to see if he adjusts to pitches lower in the zone by putting them in play or hopefully a few over the fence.
Jeff Bianchi is Segura’s backup, but shouldn’t see much time in the field.
Third Base – The 36-year Aramis Ramirez anchors the left side of the infield. Before 2013, he had 2 seasons with 149 games at 3B while hitting over 25 HRs with a .300 AVG. A knee injury halted his 2013 season. He was on track for similar numbers (12 HRs and .283 AVG in 351 PA). His 2014 projection looks about right considering his age and the injury (.275 AVG and 20 HRs). My only real 2014 worry with him is his health.
Catcher – The catcher situation is only a mess because the 1B situation is a disaster. The mess does push Jonathan Lucroy into the top 10 catchers because of the extra plate appearances he will likely see at 1B. What is not known for sure is how much playing time Martin Maldonado will have. If someone besides Lucroy or Maldonado stabilizes 1B, Maldonado may not see much playing time. In the long run though, not having Maldonado and his projected .220 AVG in the lineup is a good thing.
Second base – This situation is setting up as platoon with Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett, which in the fantasy world generally means, look else where. Gennett only hit .154/.175/.154 against LHP and .362/.395/.522 against RHP in his first MLB season. While Weeks hasn’t hit lefties (.262/.389/.440) a lot better than righties (.242/.331/.416) over his career, a difference exists. What I see happening is what Steamer is projecting. Ginnett will get around 400 PA and Weeks with 200 PA. Combined, they would have (13HR and 11SB). Split apart, they are pretty much useless.
In deep leagues where part timers will be drafted, take Gennett in a heart beat. He is the better defender and will get more playing time because of it.
First Base – How about starting with an image from the Brewers home page:
A team is going into the season with a .243/.300/.432 career hitter as their first baseman.
In the Brewers defense, Juan Francisco will probably platoon with someone since he hits righties somewhat OK (.252/.312/.464 with all 32 of his career HRs in 670 PA).
Now back to the image and the two catchers show up. If the answer to who is the second half of the 1B platoon is a weak hitting catcher, the answer is wrong.
So where does Mark Reynolds fit into the picture. I think he ends up as Francisco’s platoon partner. They may form the first platoon ever where both hackers have a career K% over 30%. In NL-only, I would take a late flier on Francisco and that is about it. No wonder the Brewers started Yuni 46 times at 1B last season.
The Brewers are set on the left side of the infield and at catcher with Ramirez at 3B, Segura at SS and Lucroy behind the plate. The left side of the infield is shaping into two platoon situation which means no one will play enough to be fantasy worthy. I still can’t believe a major league team is planning on beginning the season with Juan Francisco at first base … not alone publishing it on their website.