It was a rather disappointing 2022 season for the Milwaukee Brewers after falling short of the playoffs for the first time since 2017. There were a smattering of injuries, struggling hitters and the horribly destructive Josh Hader trade. There are a ton of questions they need to answer this off-season. After David Sterns stepped down from the role of General Manager the team named Matt Arnold his replacement. It is a necessity that Arnold makes a statement in his first off-season leading this team. The third of the three most important areas the Brewers need to improve on heading into 2023 is the third baseman.
Third Base Troubles
One of the most crucial positions is the hot corner. It is extremely important to have a man at third base who not only fields his position exceptionally well but can hit at the highest level. Two of the three National League MVP finalists are Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado who continue to cement themselves as the best third basemen in baseball.
The Brewers have been able to succeed with great third basemen over the years such as Casey McGehee, Aramis Ramirez, Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas. None of them were major superstars with the Crew, but they were very reliable.
After several seasons of not being able to bring in any decent middle infielders, the Brew Crew has recently built their entire team around a slew of them. If they have a true third baseman he is not the starting everyday third baseman. With a roster that includes Willy Adames, Kolten Wong, Luis Urias, Keston Hiura, Jace Peterson and Mike Brosseau they have attempted to convert several into third basemen. In 2021 that idea worked really well, but it took a terrible turn in 2022.
From Good to Bad
The most unfortunate storyline is with Urias. 2021 was his first full season in the majors and he made the most of it with the Crew. In 150 games he had a .249 batting average with 122 hits, 25 doubles, 23 homers, 63 walks and 75 RBI. In a season where several of their brightest stars struggled he got big hit after big hit.
Sadly, after an injury took him out for the first couple of weeks, his follow-up season was horrible. He posted a .239 batting average with 17 doubles, 16 homers, 50 walks and 47 RBI. These stats do not seem that bad but they are a bit misleading. In 62 games with four or more at-bats, he had one or fewer hits in 45 of those games. He had games with plenty of at-bats are rarely came up with big hits.
With all of the struggles Urias had they relied on others like Brosseau and Peterson who were not much better. Brosseau was brought over from the Tampa Bay Rays to add a little depth and in his 70 games, he hit .255 with only 36 hits in 141 at-bats. Peterson came to Milwaukee in 2020 and was given the nickname “On Base Jace.” Some of his stats suggest he improved, but overall his presence was not felt as prominently as last season with a .236 batting average.
The Brewers felt they could get away with utilizing just middle infielders. However, after what occurred last season they should have their sights set on getting a true third baseman.
Players to Target
One of the top free-agent third basemen is Brandon Drury. He has not had the prettiest career as bouncing between eight teams in eight seasons. After combining to play only 72 games between 2020-21 he was ready to get back to action in 2022. In his first season with the struggling Cincinnati Reds, he played in 92 games. During that time he had a .274 batting average, 96 hits, 22 doubles, 20 homers and 59 RBI. At the trade deadline, he went to the San Diego Padres where his production dropped as he hit only .238 in 46 games. With how his time with the Reds went he would be a solid acquisition for the Brew Crew.
One of the Brewers’ biggest issues is timely hitting which means they need a guy who doesn’t just hit homers. An under-the-radar third baseman they could make a trade for is Josh Rojas of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 2021 and 2022 were his first two full seasons and they were very similar. During those two years, he had a .267 batting average while also averaging 123.5 hits, 28.5 doubles, 10 homers and 50 RBI. Last season, in 123 games with an at-bat last season he got a hit in 81 (66%). He is not one to smack a ton of long balls, but he does a wonderful job at getting on base.
The Brewers have been doing a fine job succeeding without a true third baseman, but 2022 saw a breakdown in that process. It is time for them to find that third baseman who can be a constant force at the hot corner and provide some great offense. There are some great options and hopefully, they can find that one that stands out among the rest. The Brew Crew needs one final piece to add to an already stacked infield.
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