Logan Schafer is a player we've been talking about for a long time. A third round pick in the 2008 draft, he raked his way across the minors and hit .294/.354/.430 over five seasons on the farm. He earned his first callup in 2011, a bigger opportunity late in 2012 and in 2013 he finally got his first chance to spend a full season in the majors.
Unfortunately, his first full season in the big leagues was something of a letdown. Schafer hit just .211/.279/.322 while appearing in 134 games. 22 of his 63 hits went for extra bases, but his value at the plate was still limited at best. He especially struggled against lefties (.178/.217/.281 in 63 PA) and as a non-starter (.211/.262/.263), which is going to make it difficult for the Brewers to continue to use him as a fourth outfielder.
Schafer's biggest source of value may be his ability to play all three outfield positions, but even that was a bit underwhelming in 2013. FanGraphs estimates that he was about a run above average in center field over 190 innings, about four runs above average over 374 innings in left and actually below average in a small sample in right. Overall, FanGraphs credits him with saving 1.5 runs above average defensively but giving away 11.6 runs with the bat. They value his contribution to the 2013 Brewers at 0.0 WAR, making him the definition of a replacement-level player.
Despite his struggles this season, there is reason to believe Schafer will be better if given another opportunity in 2014. First of all, he appeared in nearly all of the Brewers' 2013 games despite repeated reports that he was dealing with nagging injuries. If that's true, the Brewers probably didn't do him any favors by sending him out to continue to struggle day after day. Secondly, he only turned 27 in September, so there's reason to believe he'll continue to grow and develop.
Schafer's ability to capably play center field will probably always be enough to land him an opportunity somewhere. For the Brewers, though, his future is uncertain. Carlos Gomez will play most or nearly all days in center field again in 2014, and if Norichika Aoki is still around then he'd be a candidate to play center in a pinch. Moving Aoki to center when needed would allow Caleb Gindl or Khris Davis into the lineup, and both have had much more MLB success at the plate.
It could be an interesting winter and spring for Schafer, who needs to take every chance to prove he deserves more opportunities next season.
Schafer got a rare opportunity to start in the leadoff spot in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs on July 30. He made the most of the chance, going 1-for-2 with a double and three walks in the contest.
He also only had one hit in the Brewers' win over the Cubs on September 7, but it was a big one: A three-run triple in the fourth inning that drove home the game-winning run:
Schafer is also a GIBBYs nominee for this walkoff bunt:
Schafer has about a year and a half of MLB service time. He projects to be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2016 and will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below: