When the Milwaukee Brewers signed Brock Holt they got a lot of things. Holt is a multi-position utility knife, a solid platoon hitter and cult legend.
Based on everything Red Sox fans have said, the man is incredibly appreciative of his fans, will spend a ton of time with friends after the game, donates to local charities, spends time with sick children and so much more. He was basically to Boston what Craig Counsell is to Brewers fans. For this article’s purposes, we’re looking at who Brock Holt the player is more so than the legend we’ll surely come to know and love.
First off, Holt is as defensively versatile as they come. He’s played every position but catcher and pitcher for the Red Sox over the last seven seasons. His three most played positions are second base, corner outfield and third base. His worst position historically has been third base or shortstop, but he can man the hot corner without really killing his team.
While defensively versatile is a plus, Holt is also a pretty good hitter. Over the last two seasons, he’s put up wRC+s of 109 and 103 and will mostly hover just under 100 in most other seasons. He strikes out about 19% of the time, which is league average, and walks 8.8% of the time over his career.
For a hitter who’s never hit 10 home runs in single season and is unlikely to do so in the future, he makes decent contact, mostly limiting soft contact, which he produces just 18% of the time. He then takes advantage of his high 24.8% line drive rate and an even ball distribution to send those balls to the outfield. It’s pretty classic utility player stuff.
Holt also plays right into the heavy platoon plans the Brewers seem to be laying out for this season. Last season, he put up an .832 OPS against righties in 231 plate appearances, compared to a .557 against lefties in 64 plate appearances. Those favorable results in a ballpark that lefty hitters love could lead to disaster for opposing teams in late games situation. As Holt will likely be more defensive and offensive sub than regular starter, Counsell can use him at times that are highly advantageous. For example, you’re in a close game and a team starts out with a righty pitcher. That pitcher must stay in for three batters now, meaning Holt, a guy who can play almost every position at the field can be used at whim to give the Crew an immediate offensive advantage. The difference from years past is that now that pitcher has to face three hitters regardless. With the diversity in handedness on the roster, it’s pretty easy to set up three straight left handed hitters against one righty.
Holt’s also ideal in those situations because he doesn’t strike out a lot and makes contact regularly. He whiffs on his swing a paltry 6.8% of the time, makes contact on 71.7% of his swing out of the zone and hits 90.8% of the balls in the zone. That profile often gives you a fighting chance, which is why Holt’s approach can make a hitter that doesn’t do many special things a quality contribution.
Alone, he isn’t a huge addition to the team. I don’t believe anyone believes he’s the replacement for Yasmani Grandal, but the Brewers obviously see value in platoons this season. Holt is as versatile as the lefty side of the platoon gets and becomes the final piece Craig Counsell needs to manage hitting situations and bullpens to finally win that allusive Manager of the Year award. He could also be a difference in a few games with some timely hitting. It’s not a huge move, but it has the makings of an important one. Holt is a contributor to watch for the Brewers this season.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference