Milwaukee Brewers: The Fascinating Willy Adames Effect

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 27: Willy Adames #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after hitting a double against the San Diego Padres at American Family Field on May 27, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Padres 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 27: Willy Adames #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after hitting a double against the San Diego Padres at American Family Field on May 27, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Padres 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Since the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Willy Adames in mid-May, people around the organization have had nothing but good things to say about him. His character and leadership are second to none, and the effect he’s had on clubhouse morale has been clear to any casual observer. The Brewers are having fun again, and he’s right in the middle of all of it.

He’s one of the best teammates in every single situation that presents itself. When Jackie Bradley Jr. hit the first walk-off of his career in what’s been a struggle of an offensive season, he was out there dumping bottles of water on him. When Freddy Peralta lost his no-hitter bid in the eighth inning against the Diamondbacks, Adames was the first one at the mound to console him and congratulate him on a great start. He’s also always out of the dugout to celebrate big hits and home runs.

But how do we quantify all of that and show tangibly that he’s helping the team win? Having fun doesn’t make you a winning team, and having a great personality doesn’t magically give you the ability to hit the ball. Even so, the difference both with the eye test and in the stats has been significant.

For starters, since he played his first game as a Brewer, they’re a ridiculous 17-5. That right there already jumps off the page and says pretty clearly that this guy has something the team needed. Not only are they winning games, but the offense has seen a huge boost. Before he was acquired, the team slash line was an abysmal .213/.298/.354 for an OPS of .652. In the games since those numbers look better at .213/.310/.414 for a somewhat respectable OPS of .724. They’re taking more walks and hitting for more power since the acquisition of their new shortstop.

The biggest change has been seen in utility infielder Luis Urias, who moved from SS to mainly 3B when the move was made for Adames. His numbers are night and day.

Before the trade: .208/.322/.367 .688 OPS.

After the trade:    .274/.348/.500   .848 OPS.

What exactly happened here is anyone’s guess, but maybe having the burden of being the shortstop of the future off his shoulders helped him relax and play the game. Whatever happened, it seems Adames was the catalyst for a big change in Urias’ hitting.

Another beneficiary of the trade has been Adames himself. He couldn’t get it going in Tampa Bay this year and was hitting just .197 and had a terrible OPS of .625. Since the trade, he’s hitting .269 and has taken just one less walk than he did the entire year in Tampa Bay in over 50 fewer at-bats. He’s seeing the ball better and gives the Milwaukee Brewers another good bat in their lineup that makes a formidable top six that will become seven when Kolten Wong is back soon. He also didn’t take long to get his first signature moment in Milwaukee when he hit a go-ahead three-run bomb in the 7th inning against the Padres less than a week after being acquired.

Adames is also leading the league in JHF since joining the Milwaukee Brewers. For those of you who haven’t read up on all the new advanced analytics, that stands for Jumping High Fives. He gets three at the end of every win when the outfielders come in for the handshake line and one every time the team hits a home run or gets a big hit in a key situation, which, and yes, I really did the math on this, puts him at just over 100 JHF’s since he came to Milwaukee.

Another way that Adames has been moving the needle for this team is as a veteran presence in the infield. The shortstop is the captain of the infield, and Urias may be a bit young for that role, especially with all of the throwing errors he made early on. This has become increasingly important with Kolten Wong and Travis Shaw going down with injuries, and Adames is a steady hand who has been in the lineup every day since arriving. He’s logged almost 3000 major league innings at shortstop, and everyone trusts him to do his job, not just using his cannon to throw out runners and turn double plays, but also to pick guys up when they make an error.

Any way you slice it, Willy Adames has been exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers needed at this point in the season and has them right in the thick of the division race with the Chicago Cubs. It’s also not just a half-season rental pickup. Adames still has three years left of team control after the 2021 season, and he’ll be bringing his energy, and hopefully, his bat, to the ballpark for every day of it.

He’s a winner and was on a Rays team that went all the way to Game Six of the World Series last year. After going just 3-21 in that World Series, he’s definitely looking for some playoff redemption, and he has this Milwaukee Brewers team on pace to get to the postseason and have that chance. What all of the stats and numbers and wins boil down to is this: Willy Adames is awesome, he’s breathed life into this team, and we all need to appreciate how amazing the turnaround has been since he came to Milwaukee.