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Slingin' David Stearns is All About That (On) Base

No Yuni's.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

David Stearns has been a very busy man since taking over as the Brewers' new General Manager following the end of the 2015 season. He's made nine trades, added five players via waiver claim, signed one big league free agent and 16 minor league free agents, and turned over more than half of the 40 man roster, aptly earning the moniker "Slingin' Stearns."

While Doug Melvin was famous for prioritizing power in his roster building, so far Slingin' Stearns has taken a different approach to putting together the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers during his first offseason as GM. David has targeted a specific skill in the players that he has acquired that the fabulous Meghan Trainor would most certainly approve of: he is all about that (on) base.

Since Travis has taken to flooding BCB with Taylor Swift-related content since coming to the site, I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to push my own pop-culture agenda on all of you. Finally, here is the content related to the talented and voluptuous starlet that all you Megatronz have desperately been craving.

Anyway, here's a look at the some of the notable position players that have departed since last season and their walk rates in 2015:

1B Adam Lind 11.5% BB
LF Khris Davis 10% BB
1B Jason Rogers 8.9% BB
OF Shane Peterson 8.8% BB
OF Logan Schafer 8.4% BB
CF Carlos Gomez 7.3% BB
INF Elian Herrera 6.5% BB
INF Luis Sardinas 5.7% BB
OF Gerardo Parra 5.7% BB
3B Aramis Ramirez 5.3% BB
INF Hector Gomez 2.2% BB
SS Jean Segura 2.2% BB
INF Hernan Perez 1.7% BB
Average 6.5% BB

(Note: Shane Peterson and Hernan Perez are still in the organization but no longer on the 40 man roster.)

When you step back and take stock of the situation overall, that's the club's starting first baseman, left fielder, center fielder, third baseman, and shortstop that have all been moved as well as eight bench players who all received 100+ plate appearances in 2015 that the club has moved on from.

Some of these players, like Adam Lind and Khris Davis, showed good patience, but given the rebuilding nature of the club their presence was less valuable than the return they garnered. However the majority of the players who have departed produced a walk rate well below the league average mark of 7.7% last season. This is perhaps best exemplified by the swing-at-everything approach of Jean Segura, who at one point last season went from July 4th to August 8th without taking a single free pass to first base. One might have thought someone like him or Hernan Perez were allergic to getting on base.

Now here are the players that have been brought in to replace them on the 40 man roster:

INF Colin Walsh* 20% BB
OF Ramon Flores* 12.8% BB
OF Domingo Santana 12.4% BB
1B Chris Carter 12.4% BB
OF Rymer Liriano* 11.7% BB
OF Ramon Flores* 11.6% BB
1B Andy Wilkins* 9.5% BB
INF Aaron Hill 8.8% BB
INF Garin Cecchini* 8.5% BB
SS Jonathan Villar 7.8% BB
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis 7.1% BB
Average 11.1% BB

(*=minor league walk rate used in lieu of limited or no major league sample)

It's not difficult to see a stark difference in walk rates with new group of players (although technically Domingo Santana was added by Doug Melvin, it was Stearns who cleared an everyday role for him). All except one of the eleven recently added position players on Stearns' 40 man roster had an above average walk rate last season. The average walk rate is nearly double that of the group the players set forth from last year, and even when you take out Colin Walsh's outlier of 20% BB rate the current group's average is over 10%.

Last season the Brewers finished 25th in baseball with a 6.8% collective rate of taking a base on balls as well as 25th with a .307 OBP. In the team's first year under Slingin' Stearns, however, we should expect both of those totals to improve thanks to the great lengths that he has gone to by targeting players with a demonstrated ability to take an above average amount of free passes. Of course some players do come with strikeout concerns as well, but that's generally more of a testament to having an extremely patient approach than anything else. While this year's club might not hit as many home runs as some of the teams of recent memory, they should still be productive offensively by making pitchers work harder and deeper into counts, making less outs, and getting on base more to give themselves more ample scoring opportunities.

Now just for fun, here's my girl Meghan performing the tune that inspired Slingin' David Stearns' roster building philosophy (and the ditty that is my personal anthem):

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs