The Milwaukee Brewers will head into the 2022 season with a much clearer picture at shortstop than they did a year ago. With the May acquisition of Willy Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Brewers found a budding star who helped both offensively and defensively to lead the Brewers to an NL Central title.
Complemented by utility options in Luis Urias, Mike Brosseau and Pablo Reyes, the Brewers have plenty of depth at shortstop and across much of the infield. Without further ado, let’s look at the Brewers’ shortstop options.
The Brewers finished May 21, 2021 with a 21-23 record and in third place in the division, two games behind the Cubs and four games behind the Cardinals. From that point on, the Brewers went 74-44, winning the division by five games over the Cardinals and a whopping 24 games ahead of the Cubs, who had a midseason collapse and traded away all of their stars.
While a lot of that improvement can be attributed to the pitching staff, shortstop Willy Adames was also a major part. He was traded to the Brewers from the Rays on May 21 in exchange for J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen. Adames, who batted just .197 in 41 games with the Rays in 2021, had a .285/.366/.521 batting line to go along with 20 home runs and 58 RBIs after joining the Brewers.
His mid-season turnaround garnered him enough votes for NL MVP to finish tied for 16th with Joey Votto and just behind teammate Corbin Burnes. While Adames is projected to regress a little bit this year (Baseball Reference has him projected for a .257/.329/.451 batting line with 21 home runs and 61 RBIs), he’ll still be the everyday shortstop. Hopefully he can repeat his performance from last year in 2022.
Urias, who came over in a trade with the Padres along with Matt Lauer for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies, has proven to be a solid utility player in his two seasons with the team. He has gradually improved his numbers each year in his career, finishing with a .249/.345/.445 batting line in 2021 while playing in 150 games for the Brewers.
He also showed some pop for the first time in his career, notching 23 home runs, which was the best on the team (unless you count Adames’ five home runs with the Rays, giving him 25 total). He also led the team with 75 RBIs.
While Urias will likely be the starter at third base, he’ll probably get plenty of appearances at shortstop as well. Like Adames, Baseball Reference is expecting some minor regression for Urias this year, projecting a batting line of .247/.339/.411 with 16 homers and 63 RBIs. Expect to see plenty more of Urias this year, whether it’s at third base, shortstop or second base.
Brosseau, who was acquired in a trade with the Rays back in November, has been a serviceable utilityman in his three-year career, totaling 143 games with a .245/.311/.438 batting line from 2019 to 2021. While he had his best season in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, where he finished with an OPS+ of 160 (major-league average is 100), he majorly regressed last season, hitting just .187/.266/.347 and totaling an OPS+ of 74.
Hopefully, the change of scenery from Tropicana Field will do similar wonders for Brosseau as it did for Adames last year. He’s currently listed as either the backup or third option at all four infield positions, meaning you’ll likely see him all over the field this season for the Brewers. He’s projected to finish with a .237/.310/.417 batting line with 11 homers and 35 RBIs by Baseball Reference.
Like Brosseau, Reyes is a versatile player who can play all over the diamond. While he’ll likely get plenty of time at third base alongside Urias, he’s another plug-and-play option at shortstop. Reyes appeared in 35 games for the Brewers last year, and while 28 of those appearances were at third base, he also made appearances at second base, shortstop, designated hitter, and in the outfield.
He finished the season with a .256/.333/.359 batting line and one home run with three RBIs. While he’s projected to regress by Baseball Reference, the site is also predicting he’ll get more playing time this year for the Crew. He’s also performed well in spring training, with a .294/.333/.412 line across 18 plate appearances.
Besides the four options listed above, it’s possible fans will also see prospect Brice Turang or Mark Mathias at some point this season, as both are listed on the team’s depth chart. Mathias played for the Brewers in the 2020 COVID season, and Turang was the Brewers first round pick in 2018 (No. 21 overall).
Which position should the Brewers prioritize improving ahead of the season?
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