The Milwaukee Brewers have continued a nasty trend from last season into the early parts of 2018 and it’s something they don’t want to continue.
Despite all the question marks (starting pitching, defense, hitting) surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers after the first week-plus of baseball, they still sit at 5-5 and have done some nice things they can build upon as the season progresses. With that being said, the defensive woes have to be the most worrisome for a ballclub that was expected to be at least be an above-average defensive team.
Improving the defense was the main priority of general manager David Stearns over the winter, which is why he focused on acquiring players who were adept in the field. The two biggest moves of the offseason, trading for Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain were, in part, made for their defensive prowess.
Yelich won a Gold Glove in 2014 for his work in left field and ranked second amongst outfielders in the National League in 2017 with a .997 fielding percentage.
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Cain is a defensive stud in his own right, recording a .984 fielding percentage in 2017, ranked fifth amongst outfielders in the American League. He also has great range and an above-average throwing arm.
Outside of the outfield duo, the Brewers were expecting their younger players to take a leap as well. Guys like Orlando Arcia, Jonathan Villar and Travis Shaw were forecasted to take another step forward defensively.
With positive improvement, especially from Arcia, Milwaukee was going to have a nice setup with Cain in center, Arcia at shortstop and Manny Pina at catcher to form a terrific trio of defensive players up the middle, something a lot of teams value.
Thanks to their additions, Milwaukee was projected to dramatically improve upon their porous 2017 defense which saw them ranked 28th in the MLB with a .981 team fielding percentage.
Villar and Arcia were the biggest culprits last season, combining for 36 errors in 262 games. The Brewers’ first basemen, Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar, also struggled, combining for 13 errors. Overall, there weren’t many players who didn’t struggle and it was often times a frustrating sight for everyone.
Unfortunately, we’ve only seen further regression this season, and it’s gotten U-G-L-Y at times.
The Brewers have committed the most errors this season (14) and subsequently have the lowest fielding percentage as well (0.964). In fact, in their four-game set against the Chicago Cubs, they had as many errors as runs scored. Yuck.
The most frustrating aspect of the defensive woes has been the critical situations they’ve come in. Milwaukee was up 2-1 on the Cubs in the top of the ninth in their game three showdown and desperately needed the victory. Jacob Barnes came in for the save opportunity and did everything he needed to in order to get three outs.
With one down, Victor Caratini hit a slow roller to shortstop which Arcia had absolutely no play on. However, he bare-handed it and whipped it over to first, getting past Eric Thames and rolling right into the dugout, awarding Caratini second base. Such a boneheaded decision by Arcia to make that throw, but then Thames tried to scoop it out of the ground with his foot on the base. He should’ve come off the base completely and fielded it like a grounder to keep it in front of him.
Following a walk by Jason Heyward, Barnes got Javier Baez to hit into a tailor-made double play, Unfortunately, third baseman Shaw couldn’t handle it and the Brewers didn’t get anybody out.
The errors haven’t even stopped there. The Brewers have had other times where a fly ball is hit into the outfield and they throw for the lead runner, having no chance, and allow the batter to take an extra base and end up at second instead of keeping him at first.
The little league display by a supposedly Major League club has been embarrassing for everyone involved. Especially considering they’ve come against the Brewers two biggest rivals and led to an awful 2-5 homestand to start the year.
Beginning Monday, they have another three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, except this time it’s in St. Louis. They also have a committed an error in seven-straight games. Let’s hope they can exorcise both demons, and play how everyone expected them to entering the season.