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Lesser Brewers: Travis Ishikawa

Travis Ishikawa spent most of the 2012 season on the bench, but he helped fill some holes the Brewers had throughout the season and helped get the team through a few tough stretches.

He wasn't the greatest player, but he filled holes that the Brewers needed to be filled.
He wasn't the greatest player, but he filled holes that the Brewers needed to be filled.

MVBrewers is a player-by-player look at the most valuable members of the 2012 Brewers, as voted on by you. Here's our top ten:

1. Ryan Braun
2. Aramis Ramirez
3. Yovani Gallardo
4. Corey Hart
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Jonathan Lucroy
7. Carlos Gomez
8. Zack Greinke

9. Marco Estrada
10: Mike Fiers

Honorable Mentions: Martin Maldonado, Rickie Weeks, Jim Henderson, Mark Rogers, Shaun Marcum, Wily Peralta, Jean Segura, Jose Veras, John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez

Lesser Brewers: Nyjer Morgan, Travis Ishikawa

The series now continues with Lesser Brewers, to cover some of the remaining Brewers that we have not covered so far. This is the second installment in that segment. The series will continue tomorrow with the third of the Lesser Brewers. You can see all the player profiles in the Most Valuable Brewers 2012 section.

How do you spell define Travis Ishikawa's 2012 season? He came to Milwaukee in the offseason as a minor league free agent. He wasn't expected to make the team and looked like he wouldn't be anything more than minor league depth. However, many of us were surprised when Ishikawa got the 25th roster spot out of spring training over Brooks Conrad, to provide a more stable backup behind Mat Gamel. It was exciting for Ishikawa after being cut in 2011, as he would start the season in the majors.

Over the first month, Ishikawa only saw a limited amount of playing time. He only started three games in April and got a total of 24 plate appearances. His big hits in the month came on home runs on back-to-back days, but otherwise he was mainly riding the bench. Then, he got his opportunity to get more time. When Mat Gamel was lost for the season because of his ACL injury, Ishikawa was needed to held cover the hole left at first base, and started putting up some numbers to help back him up. He made 10 starts in May, putting together a batting line of .275/.375/.525, and had a chance to secure more playing time. However, a strain to his rib cage took him out of the lineup, and with the Brewers needing roster space, he ended up on the DL for a month.

By the time he returned from the DL in late June, Corey Hart had stepped up and taken over the first base spot in the lineup. With his spot taken, Ishikawa was relegated to bench duty for the remainder of the season, with a few starts here and there to help cover rest days and some injury days near the end of the season. He would only make 13 more starts in 2012, though he did provide a much needed bat off the bench. He hit .261/.337/.364 after his return from the DL, and his line as a pinch hitter for the season was .260/.315/.340. His 13 pinch hits led the team, and he brought some strength to a bench that was struggling to find a good hitter.

Best Game

On May 15, Travis Ishikawa was still looking to establish himself at first base after Mat Gamel's season ending injury. On this day, he put together a performance that got him some attention. He went 3-for-4 against the Mets, hitting two home runs on the day and accounting for five of the Brewers eight runs. You can see his two home runs in this video:

As good as this game was for Travis Ishikawa, it would be the beginning of the end of his chance to play more often at first base. He would switch places with Corey Hart in the ninth inning of the game, and that would be the start of Corey Hart's big season at first base.

Contract Status

Travis Ishikawa was outrighted to Nashville earlier in the offseason, and elected to become a free agent rather than accept the assignment. The Brewers have made no indications that they plan to re-sign him.