With a dynamic mix of power, speed and overall athleticism, the Milwaukee Brewers boast the best outfield in the entire NL.
The combination of Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis will be unmatched in the senior circuit, as each player brings an intriguing set of tools to the club.
Despite concerns from some that Braun will struggle to be the player he was before the admission of PED use, his 2012 numbers and pure ability suggest another MVP-type season.
He’ll hit 32-35 home runs, bat around .300, drive in 100-plus runs and put up an OPS better than .925 on the year. Simply put, he’s an incredible hitter who impacts every game. Braun is a true savant at the dish.
Defensively, Braun has turned himself into an above-average outfielder. He still owns a strong arm and can race to balls in the gap. There will be a learning curve as he moves to right field. He’ll occasionally look bad on fly ball and throw to the wrong base, but he’ll turn more flies into outs than the average right fielder and control base runners with a plus arm.
To top things off, he’ll even swipe 20 bags, snag an extra base when it’s needed and steal a handful of infield hits to make him an all-around threat. I’d take him over any right fielder in baseball.
Meanwhile, Gomez broke out in a big way last season with an MVP-worthy performance of his own.
His play in center field the past two seasons would indicate he’s the best defensive center fielder in MLB right now. Watching him cover crazy amounts of ground is strong evidence alone, and it’s supported by defensive metrics. Even the amount of home runs he took away last year was second-to-none.
Two reliable stats — defensive runs saved (DRS) and ultimate zone rating (UZR) — quantify the 28-year-old’s talent. Since 2012, Gomez has a DRS of 41, which is 14 runs better than the next center fielder, Michael Bourn. His UZR of 29.2 during that period is also the best, over six points better than Bourn again.
For reference, the average player puts up a zero in each of these categories in a given year; Gomez has averaged 20.5 DRS and a 14.6 UZR.
On the offensive side, Go-Go discovered a swing that works for him. He hit far more line drives last season than he normally has, resulting in a career-best .284 average and .338 OBP. Gomez then added some extra pop, reaching career highs in home runs (24), triples (10) and doubles (27). Tack on 80 runs and 73 RBI, and he would have been a legitimate MVP candidate had the Brewers won more ball games.
Of course, he still has the blazing speed on the base paths. Though he sometimes gets out of control, it’s hard to complain about him going 40-for-47 in stolen bases and putting lots of pressure on the defense. You can’t teach speed and he has plenty of it.
Gomez will most likely regress a touch at the plate, but his defense and wheels still give him a couple of elite tools and put him near the top tier of outfielders.
Finally, there’s the “youngster” in Davis. The 26-year-old left fielder has a ton of power potential, slugging .596 with 11 home runs in just 56 games last season. Though he’ll strike out his fair share, Davis has actually shown decent discipline at the plate in the minor leagues, posting a .392 OBP in five seasons with Brewers’ affiliates.
He’s a bit of a wild card as scouts appear to be split on his projections, but he’s been quite the hitter at every level. In 2012, for example, he spent time at three different levels and had a combined .350 average, .451 OBP, .604 slugging and a 1.055 OPS. He’ll hit some bumps in the road, but he can and will hit.
In the field, he’s more athletic and has more range than a lot of left fielders. He doesn’t have much of an arm, but again, left field is meant for the worst outfielder anyway. As long as he can track balls down on a regular basis, he’ll more than make up for any shortcomings with his bat.
This will be an exciting trio calling Miller Park home. With at least 75 homers and 75 stolen bases between them, they’ll prove to be the best outfield in the NL.