Brewers: Shane Peterson takes road less traveled to center field


It’s not uncommon for center fielders to find their way to first base later in their careers.

First base is well known throughout baseball history as a last resting place for players whose legs have betrayed them.

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Pete Rose went from the second base to the outfield corners to third base to first base in his long career. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Stan Musial are just a few of the Hall of Fame outfielders who spent significant time at first base late in their careers.

What Shane Peterson of the Milwaukee Brewers doing is a bit more revolutionary.

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The 27-year-old whose major league career consisted of eight plate appearances in two games for the Oakland Athletics in April 2013 over the first seven years of his professional baseball life has taken over as the everyday center fielder for the Brewers since trades sent away Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra late last month.

Even with a natural center fielder, Logan Schafer, on the roster, Peterson is the guy for now.

In 82 innings in center, Peterson hasn’t done anything defensively to hurt the team, playing error-free baseball.

On the other hand, in the small sample size, he’s not going to remind anyone of Gomez—a Gold Glove winner in 2013—either.

According to FanGraphs, Peterson’s ultimate zone rating in center field is minus-0.5, slightly below average. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (the number of runs he can be expected to add or subtract from the team over the course of 150 games) is minus-15.0.

By comparison, Gomez’s rating this season was 3.3. In his Gold Glove campaign two years ago, it was 24.4.

Schafer’s career UZR/150 in center field is 2.6, again for comparison’s sake.

But Peterson is opening eyes with his bat.

In 133 plate appearances over 52 games this season, Peterson is hitting .308/.377/.393 with 17 runs, four doubles, three triples and eight RBI.

Last season at Triple-A Sacramento in the Oakland chain, he hit .308/.381/.460 in 137 games, scoring 101 runs with 40 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs and 90 RBI.

He was acquired by the Brewers last Dec. 23 off waivers from the Chicago Cubs, who had claimed him off waivers from the A’s just four days earlier.

In 10 games since the trades, Peterson is 11-for-31 in 39 plate appearances, with four runs, two triples, two RBI and five walks with just three strikeouts.

He’s also laid down three sacrifice bunts and has an OPS of .928.

“I’ve been wanting an opportunity for the last couple years and I didn’t really care what role it was,” Peterson told “I was happy being up here as the fifth outfielder, pinch-hitting when needed, but now I’m getting an opportunity to start more. It’s all bonus for me.”

He was taken in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Long Beach State in the 2008 amateur draft and because of his size (6-feet) and lack of power, he was moved from first base to left field.

He was one of the three prospects shipped to Oakland in July 2009 when the Cardinals acquired outfielder Matt Holliday from the A’s.

He was called up to the A’s in April 2013, started two games at first base, went 1-for-7 with an RBI, a walk and three strikeouts against the Houston Astros, and was sent back to Sacramento.

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  • And that was it until June 3, when he was recalled by the Brewers. He earned the call-up by hitting .320/.387/.523 in 47 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, scoring 26 runs with 10 doubles, two triples, seven homers and 27 RBI.

    “When you throw left-handed, there aren’t many spots for you,” Peterson said. “For me, I have to play as many positions as I can.

    “I think I’ve done all right [in center field]. I’m still getting used to the reads and the jumps or whatever, but hopefully I’ll get a lot of opportunities to play out there the rest of the year and get better at it.”

    Manager Craig Counsell understands it is a work in progress.

    “There’s going to be challenging plays out there that will happen, but I think [Peterson] has done a nice job,” Counsell said. “And I think he’s had really good at-bats. That’s a part of it, too.”

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