Travis Shaw was Brew Crew Ball’s most valuable Brewer in 2017. This season, he’s dropped a few places. Part of this is because he was surrounded by much better players, like Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Josh Hader, and part of it was that his performance saw a modest dip. Despite that, there’s no denying that Shaw was an essential Brewer in 2018.
Shaw started the season as the everyday third baseman playing exceptional defense. He had nine defensive runs saved and a 2.2 UZR, good enough to make him a finalist for a Gold Glove and a Fielding Bible award. Despite that, the Brewers acquired Mike Moustakas in July and slid Shaw over to second base. Shaw played adequately at second, but most importantly gave an offensive boost to a spot in the lineup that had been next to useless for a majority of the season.
While Shaw was an offensive improvement to the other players manning second, he did not repeat his offensive success from 2017. The lefty slashed .241/.345/.480 over the season. Much of the batting average dip can be attributed to awful luck. Despite having the best hard-hit percentage of his career (39.8%), career best walk rate (13.3%) and K-rate (18.4%), he still ended the season with an insanely low .242 BABIP.
Even with low numbers, Shaw’s other offensive production — like 32 homers — and defensive production lead to a 119 wRC+ and greater than 4 wins above replacement per our composite numbers. In 2017, Shaw had a 3.5 WAR and 120 wRC+. If his numbers truly are a result of bad luck, he should be looking at a stellar resurgence in 2019, maybe even battling Christian Yelich for league MVP and, much more importantly, his second ever MVB.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs