In trading last year’s leadoff man, Norichika Aoki, and failing to add the quality left-handed-hitting first baseman they wanted, the Brewers have left themselves with the most unbalanced lineup in baseball.
Here are the likely starters, along with my projection for each:
C: Jonathan Lucroy (R) – .283/.337/.443
1B: Mark Reynolds (R) – .231/.328/.455
2B: Scooter Gennett (L) – .270/.311/.382
3B: Aramis Ramirez (R) – .277/.350/.470
SS: Jean Segura (R) – .283/.336/.379
LF: Khris Davis (R) – .231/.315/.428
CF: Carlos Gomez (R) – .250/.306/.444
RF: Ryan Braun (R) – .297/.376/.525
From a production standpoint, that’s not bad at all. A Braun-Ramirez-Lucroy middle-of-the-order should work out fine. Figuring out what to do with the rest of the group is the tough call. It’s clear that Segura is going to get a look as a leadoff man. There’s only the one lefty in Gennett, and he projects as the worst hitter in the group. In fact, Rickie Weeks may still be a better player than Gennett, though if he starts, that leaves the Brewers without any lefties at all, unless maybe Reynolds misses out on the first base job.
Ignoring handedness, Gennett would probably hit eighth, with Segura and Gomez occupying the top two spots in the lineup. But seven righties in a row would be tough. My thought would be to hit Gennett eighth anyway, simply because I don’t think either Davis or Reynolds would do well there. Those two would see oodles of breaking balls out of the zone while hitting ahead of the pitcher.
If Davis and Reynolds both produce well enough to get 450-500 at-bats, the Brewers have a great shot of leading the league in homers. I’m not sure that would put them into the top five in runs scored, though. That will hinge more on Segura, who tapered off badly as last year went along, and Gomez, who had a lifetime .294 OBP and .673 OPS before busting out with a .338 OBP and an .843 OPS last year.
Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.
That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:
It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.
The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.
This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.
Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.
From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.
I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.