With a season to forget in 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers may be flying under the radar as the 2014 season approaches. The Brewers were haunted by injuries and also had to deal with the dark cloud that hovered over them in Ryan Braun‘s suspension. However, the 2014 season could be a much different story.
It remains to be seen what the Brewers’ plan is this offseason on addressing the first base position now that their primary targets are off the market. Nonetheless, this is still a potent lineup that has a bit more consistency in place than years past.
Star shortstop Jean Segura is the likely candidate to man the lead-off spot. Segura batted .294 last season and swiped 44 bases while flashing a .978 fielding percentage in 146 games. To put that in perspective, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons took home Gold Glove honors with a .981 fielding percentage, so Segura’s .978 speaks wonders in his first full season in the majors.
The Brewers are high on their 23-year-old second baseman Scooter Gennett, who proved he belongs in the big leagues batting .324 in 69 games last season. Look for him to bat second behind Segura in the lineup. This duo adds a unique dimension atop the Brewers’ lineup. Segura is a base stealer and Gennett has tremendous bat control which will have the Brewers’ aggressive manager Ron Roenicke licking his chops. He’ll see fastballs in front of Braun and with his situational hitting awareness you can expect to see numerous RBI opportunities for Braun and Aramis Ramirez.
We all know the Braun situation and you can certainly imagine he will be out to prove himself this season. Braun is a rare talent and still is the face of this franchise. Braun will be shifted to right field as the Brewers traded away Norichika Aoki to the Kansas City Royals this winter. This goes to show Braun’s suspension was a blessing in disguise as they were able to see the talent they had in Khris Davis, who will be the everyday left fielder. Braun has a stronger arm which is why he’ll make the move to right field to prevent opponents going from first-to-third on base hits.
Ramirez will likely hit in the cleanup spot again like he’s done most of his career. He was plagued by knee and ankle injuries last season, only playing in 92 games. Let’s not forget, though, just two seasons ago in his first season in Milwaukee he boasted a .300 batting average, 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and led the league with 50 doubles. He can flat out stick when healthy and will protect Braun in the heart of the lineup.
Jonathon Lucroy will likely be slotted behind Ramirez in the fifth spot of the lineup given his professional hitting approach with runners on base. Lucroy can hit to all fields and knows how to absolutely torture opposing pitchers with his plate discipline and ability to foul off tough pitches as he finished 11th in the NL last season in pitches per plate appearance. Lucroy has taken a lot of pride and dedicated himself to becoming not only a good defensive catcher but also a game manager in working with the pitching staff.
The lineup doesn’t get any easier after that. In 2013, Carlos Gomez put together the type of season his potential has been screaming for in his young career. The five-tool freak hit a respectable .284, with 24 home runs and stole 40 bases. Gomez and Segura actually both tied for 2nd in all of baseball with 10 triples each behind Denard Span (11). Aside from the offensive threat and havoc Gomez presents to opposing teams, he has cemented himself as arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball and proved so by taking home the 2013 Gold Glove. Gomez found himself on highlight reels night after night flashing the leather and accumulated a whopping 38 defensive runs saved. The second place finisher in the Gold Glove race was Andrew McCutchen, who had … wait for it … seven defensive runs saved. Although McCutchen did take home National League MVP honors it goes to show how spectacular of a season Gomez had.
Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo lead the staff followed by the promising arms of Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg, who Brewers believe is their Michael Wacha. If the pitching staff can provide quality starts, with this lineup, this team is bound for a pennant race.