I’m sure, as you all remember, Travis Shaw’s time with the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t end very well the first time around. During his first two seasons with the Crew in 2017 and 2018 after coming over from Boston in the Tyler Thornburg trade, Shaw had tallied a .258 batting average with an OPS of .844 and an OPS+ of 120–the league average is 100. He also recorded 63 home runs.
Unfortunately, during the 2019 season, we saw Shaw struggle. And I mean really struggle. His batting average and OPS plummeted to .157 and .551, respectively. While his OPS+ was an abysmal 45. The Brewers sent Shaw to the minors on a few occasions that season with the hope that he would be able to put it together; however, he never did. Shaw was then non-tendered that offseason.
Shaw would go on to spend the 2020 season in Toronto, where he did rebound to a certain degree, although not to the level that he was at in 2017 and 2018 here in Milwaukee. In 50 games, he would slash .239/.306/.411 with six home runs and an OPS+ of 96. Not great by any means, but Shaw’s peripheral numbers showed a player who had performed much better than what his batting average would indicate.
This Spring, now back with the Milwaukee Brewers, told a similar story. Shaw would bat just .190 in 42 at-bats, but he hit two home runs, had two doubles, he drew seven walks, and even his outs were oftentimes hard-hit balls. The numbers weren’t quite there, but this felt different than what we had seen the last time Shaw was in a Brewers’ uniform.
When Shaw signed his minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason, there was no guarantee he was going to be on the Opening Day roster, let alone even apart of the team beyond March 15th, which was a deadline for the Brewers to inform Shaw if he would make the big league roster. If the Brewers didn’t want to make that commitment to Shaw, he would have been released at that point.
Shaw of course did make the team, and found himself as Milwaukee’s starting third baseman on Opening Day against the Minnesota Twins–and what a day it was.
When it was all said and done, Shaw went 2-4 at the plate with one walk, three RBIs, and he also played an incredibly important role in the Milwaukee Brewers’ late come from behind victory.
In his first at-bat, Shaw would reach on an infield single. During his next time up, Shaw had the bases loaded and drew a walk after an excellent at-bat against Twins’ pitcher Kenta Maeda. Shaw battled, going eight pitches during the at-bat, including two foul balls when the count was full.
In the bottom of the 5th, Shaw would reach on a fielder’s choice infield hit that moved Christian Yelich to second on an error. Yelich would then eventually score after singles by Lorenzo Cain and Omar Narvaez.
Shaw would groundout in the seventh but in the ninth, he became one of the game’s heroes. After a few miscues by the Twins that gave Milwaukee new life, Shaw was up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, men at second and third, and the Crew down by two.
On a first pitch cutter that caught a lot of the plate, Shaw would rip it into the gap for a double, scoring both runs and tying the game in the process. From there, the Brewers would go on to win the game in the bottom of the 10th inning.
I mean, what a way to begin the 2021 season, and not only for the Milwaukee Brewers but for Shaw as well, who was at the low point in his big league career the last time he had that Brewers uniform on. Although his first stint with the Crew did not end how any of us would have expected it to, his first game back in Milwaukee couldn’t have gone much better.
To put a bow on yesterday’s game and performance, Shaw summed it up quite well via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Yeah, a pretty good first day back. I can’t complain.”