Don’t expect many ground balls to get through the Milwaukee Brewers‘ middle infield. Their two 23-year-olds will be flashing their range up the middle defensively and are also expected to wreak havoc atop the lineup offensively.
Jean Segura, the headliner in the Zack Greinke trade from 2012, lived up to everything and more in his first Major League season last year. Segura finished third in all of baseball in stolen bases with 44. He was tied for second in all of baseball in triples with ten, finishing only one behind Denard Span who led with eleven.
One thing to chew on: Segura eclipsed highly touted star Jacoby Ellsbury in hits, triples and home runs while sustaining very similar numbers in the other offensive categories. Ellsbury received a seven-year deal worth over $150 million at the age of 30. It is worth mentioning Segura also out-hit Elvis Andrus and maintained a higher fielding percentage of .975 compared to Andrus’ .973. Andrus received an eight-year-deal for $120 million just a year ago. This should put into perspective what direction Segura is heading.
Now the second digit in the 6-4-3 double-play combo belongs to Scooter Gennett, who never looked back when given an opportunity to play every day in place of Rickie Weeks. Gennett played in 69 games and carried a dazzling .324 batting average. His ability to consistently spray hits all over the field is impressive. He was a .300 hitter coming up through the Brewers’ farm system so it wasn’t exactly a big surprise.
It was Gennett’s defense that impressed the organization. Once thought of as a liability defensively, .969 fielding percentage in minors, Gennett made major strides before getting called up and he sustained that defensive focus throughout his transition to the big leagues en route to a .984 fielding percentage. The Gold Glove belonged to the slick-fielding Brandon Phillips, whose .987 fielding percentage finished slightly above Gennett’s. Move over Weeks; it’s clear Gennett is here to stay.
Both Segura and Gennett may stand at only 5-foot-10, but they will carry a ton of weight in guiding the Brewers this season. Look for Segura to hit lead-off and the Brewers to utilize his electrifying ability to jump start the lineup. Gennett is a perfect fit for the second spot behind Segura. Aside from the fact he’s left-handed, which tends to conflict with catchers’ ability to throw out base-runners, Gennett has extraordinary bat control and can directionally spray the ball where the defense isn’t setting up serious RBI opportunities for the sluggers behind them.
Both of these gems will be relied on to play consistent defense and to get on base in front of Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. If last season is a telling sign of what’s to come from these two, the Brewers have a goldmine.