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Milwaukee’s Intriguing Versatility

The Brewers roster may yet be complete — I certainly hope they have another move in them. Regardless of what David Stearns has left in the tank, the crew in camp is already plenty intriguing. The position players in particular are fascinating, as the Brewers are bringing in their most versatile group of glovemen in years.

The Brewers have 13 position players in camp with a legitimate shot at making the Opening Day roster, excluding catchers. Likely, one of the outfielders and one of the infielders below will find themselves cut. Regardless, observe the ridiculous amount of positional coverage this club boasts:

Player Position 1 Position 2 Position 3 Position 4
Hernan Perez 2B 3B RF LF
Eric Sogard 2B 3B SS
Jonathan Villar SS 2B 3B
Christian Yelich LF CF RF
Keon Broxton CF RF LF
Brett Phillips CF RF LF
Lorenzo Cain CF RF LF
Eric Thames 1B LF
Ryan Braun 1B LF
Travis Shaw 3B 1B
Domingo Santana RF LF
Jesus Aguilar 1B
Orlando Arcia SS

Position-by-position, it breaks down like this:

Position Total Primary
1B 4 3
2B 3 2
3B 4 1
SS 3 2
LF 8 1
CF 4 3
RF 6 1

I would assume that one of Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips will be cut by April, and I think Jesus Aguilar is facing an uphill battle as well. But regardless, the Brewers will feature five outfielders capable of playing every position, a few infielders capable of covering the outfield, and three competent multi-position middle infielders beyond Gold Glove-level shortstop Orlando Arcia. That’s an embarrassment of riches, and I’m excited to see what David Stearns, Craig Counsell and the rest can squeeze out of these possibilities.

It’s possible this team will be running out different lineups every day. Ryan Braun will probably require regular rest. Eric Thames had gigantic platoon splits, with a .918 OPS against righties and just a .658 mark against southpaws. Hernan Perez can play just about anywhere, but has possibly the least consistent bat of the entire roster. As you run down the roster, you can find flaws and strengths with every name on the list.┬áBut with the way these players can fit together, there should be a right combination for all situations.

Check out just how well this team could exploit the platoon advantage:

Position LHB RHB
1B 1 2
2B 2 2
3B 3 2
SS 2 2
LF 3 5
CF 2 2
RF 2 4

With multiple options of each hand at each position other than the least valuable (first base), the Brewers shouldn’t have to worry at all about opposing LOOGYs or ROOGYs. Righties hit 12 percent better with the platoon advantage, and for lefties it was a lofty 22 percent. The Brewers should be able to enjoy the platoon advantage a majority of the time with this lineup, and particularly in high-leverage at-bats.

Milwaukee batters had the platoon advantage just over half the time in 2017. If the Brewers can add another 450 or so plate appearances with the platoon advantage in 2018, they should be able to squeeze out an extra 10 runs (approximately one win). Either the Brewers can make that happen with their bevy of options, or some of the hitters stay so hot you can’t take their bats out of the lineup. And no matter what, the bench will have strong late-game options.

This lineup will take a bit of managing, but the Brewers haven’t just assembled a solid roster, they’ve gathered a bunch of pieces that fit very well together. Those are the kind of advantages they’ll need to exploit in order to truly compete with teams like the Cubs and the Dodgers in the National League. With the right touch, this Brewers squad could produce well beyond what they appear capable of on first glance.


 

Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez, USAToday Sports Images

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