In a league where strike outs out number hits and there are actually fewer balls put in play for fielders to catch than ever before one starts to wonder about the benefit of having players that actually profess to excelling at a specific position. Further with the advanced stats in place that accurately predict where a batter will hit the ball there is an even greater ability to put players where they can excel.
This becomes more important with a team like the Brewers where one fielder is significantly better at the defensive aspects of the game than any others: Orlando Arcia. He is actually significantly better at all aspects of defense including range, catching the ball, throwing accuracy and throwing strength.
In Travis Shaw they had a second best in all these aspects of defense under most circumstances. If he is in the line up and range is valued highly than Perez will be more highly valued. The third most valued member of the defense last year would have been Moose with Aguilar being last.
In any at bat the Brewers could, and often due position these infielders based upon their skills. In 2019, the Brewers could further develop this deployment of fielders by using Arcia as a true libero of infield. A libero is what they call a defensive specialist in volleyball which function much like a designated fielder. After the first serve, this player who plays back row and never hits shifts to whichever position is likely to get the most balls hit at him.
Considering Arcia's prominence and Shaw's new found versatility there is the potential to play them as defensive specialists. Against a left handed batter that has slight propensity to pull the ball Arcia could be at second and Shaw would be the shortstop. Against a right handed pull hitter put Arcia at short and Shaw at third.
If the Brewers go with this type of a system, they will reduce the number of opportunities for the third infielder not a first baseman (I separate out the first basebecause of different skill set (ability to handle bad throws to first) and specialized equipment) to have the ball hit at him.
Considering that over 23% of opposing batters struck out last year, if the Brewers went with a Libero concept how few of chances will this third infielder get? The third base position had 412 chances in 2018. Could the Brewers reduce the third starting infielder to under two chances a game due to Libero and perhaps a defensive replacement later in the game? And if they do, what level of defensive ability is important in that position? And if they do all of this is it important to sign someone that can play specifically second base or third base?
Could Domingo Santana be that player or some combination of Ryan Braun and Michael Brantley do it?