Baseball is back!
TOP PLAY (WPA): After Carlos Torres opted out of his minor-league deal with the Braves, the Brewers signed him to a big league deal. That decision proved costly, at least in the home opener.
After the Brewers got off to an early lead, the Giants came back and took a 5-3 lead going into the fifth. That’s when Wily Peralta was removed from the game, and replaced by newly-signed Carlos Torres. Torres got two quick outs but then walked Brandon Belt.
The following batter was Matt Duffy. Torres fell behind early in the count, after throwing two straight balls. Duffy then took a strike and with a 2-1 count with 2 outs in the fifth, he hit an up and in fastball deep to extend the lead. At 7-3, the game was pretty much out of reach and the Brewers were unable to come back.
Worst Play (WPA): The Brewers got off to a strong start. Wily Peralta, got the nod for opening day, and got a quick 1-2-3 first inning, helped by this Aaron Hill diving play:
In the bottom of the first, Madison Bumgarner was in unusual bad form. He was battling the flu, which may have ignited his poor, early start. Santana lead off the game with a quick single. Three out of the four next batters were able to draw walks, which put the Brewers up 1-0 with one out and the bases loaded. Hill, who was acquired earlier in the offseason, then came to the plate. After taking the first strike, he grounded into an inning-ending double play, killing the rally.
Trend to keep watching: It’s the first game of the season, therefore, there aren’t many trends to note, but one thought-provoking part of this game was Domingo Santana leading off.
Santana isn’t your typical leadoff hitter. He’s not the quickest player on the team, nor is he a prolific base stealer. In his short stint in the majors, he’s walked at an above average clip, but he doesn’t make a ton of contact and he strikes out a ton (33.7 K%). His on-base percentage last year was pretty good and has been solid throughout the minors, which is a positive but it’s unusual to see someone who strikes out that often at the leadoff spot.
Derek Harvey, managing editor of the Brew Crew Ball, noted that this might be the lineup versus left handed pitchers, but then again, why would you have Scooter Gennett in there instead of Colin Walsh. On the other hand, this could just be a situation of Craig Counsell playing his “main starters” on opening day. Either way, Santana seems to be one of the main starters, on the Brewers. He also crushed lefties last year and got on base at a decent clip which might be provoking Counsel’s choice of having him in the leadoff position. It’ll just be interesting to see whether this lineup changes against right-handed pitchers, and how he decides to use Santana considering his platoon splits.
Gennett and Villar:
“Villar! Hill! Broxton! Gennett! Your 2016 opening-day Brewers who wouldn’t be recognized in a community grocery store,” said Jeff Sullivan in a FanGraphs chat.
It’s true that both Jonathan Villar and Scooter Gennett aren’t household names. If you’re not a Brewers fan or a die hard baseball fan, then you probably aren’t familiar with these players. With that said, they both did interesting thing’s in this game.
First, Gennett hit an absolute shot.
Scooter Gennett's bomb clocked at 108.5 MPH off the bat… He didn't hit a ball that hard all last year. His hardest last year 103.64 MPH
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 4, 2016
The interesting part about this home run is that Gennett didn’t hit a single home run against lefties, in 2015. In fact, he’s never hit a single home run against any lefty in his big league career. At least, until this one.
This very well might have been a fluke, but’s it’s interesting that Gennett got the nod against MadBum even though he’s been awful throughout his career against left-handed pitchers. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s made an adjustment in his game, and will provide more sustained production against left-handed pitchers. If that’s the case, then the Brewers have found their second baseman of the future, even though this outcome is still very unlikely.
Villar also had a nice moment.
In 2015, Villar only hit two home runs. In 2016, he’s already got one. Villar is obviously just a placeholder for Orlando Arcia, but if he’s able to hit for more power than usual, then he should get more playing time once Arcia makes his debut.
The Brewer are playing again tomorrow against the Giants. This time, they’ll have Jimmy Nelson on the mound facing Johnny Cueto.
The Brewers got their heads beaten in today, but they still remain an interesting team. There’s a lot of potential and young players who are ready to prove their worth. Try to find solace and joy in their performance. Joy in the little things, and don’t get too upset at the final score, because if you do, then this will be a long season.
If anything, it’s nice to have baseball back.