At 15-5, the Brewers happily sit atop the NL Central division and have won more games than any team in baseball to this point. Hell, they’ve already won more games than they did in all of April last year (14). They have combined power, clutch hitting, good starting pitching and an excellent relief corps into a lethal mix for opponents. But as well as the Brewers have played this season, they’d be even more of a force if they could cut out some of the stupid errors and base-running mistakes they continue to perpetrate on the field.
Granted, some things can be chalked up to aggressive approaches and the willingness to be wild and daring. This team ain’t boring, that’s for sure. Occasionally groan-worthy, though? Yes indeed.
The Brewers have benefitted from stronger play on the right side of the infield, however. Mark Reynolds has looked like a gold glover at first base compared to Juan Francisco (who, incidentally, is now up in the MLB with the Jays after spending some time in Triple-A). Scooter Gennett is a decent upgrade from Rickie Weeks, though their metrics aren’t really outstandingly different for the most part, and Gennett still has a too-small MLB stat sample. Gennett and Weeks have the same amount of errors committed in 2014, with two apiece…except Gennett has been in 13 more games than Weeks.
Brewers fans can watch the games and ascertain simply by the naked eye that Gennett is making plays that Weeks wouldn’t. Poor Weeks…I like the guy as a person but damn if he doesn’t seem to turn good chances straight into manure lately. His place on this roster becomes more cumbersome with every failed at-bat. Weeks has only been given a paltry 24 AB’s this year, fewer than half of Gennett’s opportunities, but still. While Gennett is just a tick below league average for fielding percentage at second base (league: .974, Gennett: .969), Weeks checks in well below those at .875. Further, while Gennett’s Range Factor (putouts + assists) / games played) is fairly putrid compared with second basemen around the league (3.90), Weeks is so far at the bottom that he nearly falls off the chart (3.23). Basically, it appears that with Gennett at second base the Brewers may break even, but with Weeks in the field, the team fails to save/prevent runs it would have otherwise.
Probably the most prevalent miscue with the Brewers, though, is the TOOTBLAN. Described as a “non-force out made on the base paths,” the Brewers commit one of these blunders nearly every night, it seems. A great example came earlier this season when Carlos Gomez reached second base on a single after the outfielder bobbled the ball a little bit, and then was promptly thrown out by a wide margin at third when he attempted an ill-advised taking of that base as well.
There’s a thin red line between pushing the envelope in a flight of fanciful derring-do and floating bottom up like a dead duck. At times the Brewers’ failure to drive in runners with productive outs can be maddening, like during the first inning of Monday’s game when the Brewers had Gomez on third with no outs (a scenario produced in that case by Gomez and his aggressive base-running). Gomez had stolen second and reached third when the throw skirted into center field, but then no one could drive him in, even starting with no outs.
What’s worse, though, is the TOOTBLAN (which stands for Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop). Like the Gomez one mentioned above from earlier this season, the TOOTBLAN in the eighth inning Monday night was a head-shaker. With Jean Segura on third and Elian Herrera on first and one out, Herrera headed for second base and was thrown out, followed by Jean Segura getting caught in no-man’s land off third and tagged out on the very same play. Seriously: runners on the corners, one out, and Martin Maldonado, one of the worst bunters and runners on the team, and the Brewers end up with both base runners tagged out on the same play to end the inning? That’s the kind of insanely moronic play I’m just not certain could happen to any other team in the league. Just let him swing away there, Roenicke. Instead, all were nincompoops.
If the Brewers hadn’t committed those atrocious base-running gaffes, maybe they have a nicer cushion with which to beat the San Diego Padres. Thankfully it didn’t matter, but they had golden opportunities in the first and eighth innings Monday night and didn’t capitalize due to poor fundamentals. Yet, this Brewers juggernaut charges on. Just think, though, if they cut down on those mistakes…how formidable would Milwaukee’s team be if they didn’t so often curb their own potential to score runs?