The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers are above average on offense, and in fact are a better run producing team than the 2011 Brewers team that featured Prince Fielder. The Brewers are a slightly worse pitching team, but not by much. The Brewers record is much worse due to one factor: the team’s inability to turn batted balls into outs. The 2011 Brewers were well above average in the field, the 2012 Brewers are the worst fielding team in the National League.
To expose which Brewers are to blame, I looked up each player’s “Defensive Runs Saved/Year” on Baseball-Reference.com. Defensive Runs Saved calculates the number of runs a player prevented the opposition from scoring based upon the number of “chances” that he converted into “outs” (and other factors). Here is the list, from best Brewer fielder to worst:
1. Braun…..+13 runs
2. Morgan….+13 runs
3. Lucroy…. +7 runs
4. Gamel…. +0 runs
5. Kottaras…. +0 runs
6. Gomez…. -5 runs
7. Ishikawa…. -8 runs
8. Maldonado…. -8 runs
9. Ramirez…. -9 runs
10. Weeks…. -15 runs
11. Gonzalez…. -18 runs
12. Aoki…. -21 runs
13. Hart…. -33 runs
Gamel injury caused chain reaction
As you can see, the worst two defenders this season per chance (remember, I’m only considering DRS/year, so its prorated) have been 1st basemen Corey Hart and RF Aoki. The only reason those two are playing the positions they are playing is because of the knee injury suffered by Mat Gamel. The injury (along with Aoki’s hot bat) forced Hart to 1st and Aoki to right. Hart is actually a good RFer, but he is a terrible 1st baseman. Aoki is a terrible defensive player with no range. He deceives people with diving catches, but those were balls the average RFer could have played on his feet.
Beyond those two, the infield continues to be a defensive mess. Ramirez is a substandard 3ber, and Rickie Weeks has never been a good defender at any point in his career, save for last season (wasn’t it his contract season??). Scooter Gannet, we may be calling your name.
The irony of this whole thing is that the best defender on the Brewers is MVP Ryan Braun. Wow, has he stepped up his game in the field. At 3rd, he was brutal. In LF, however, he has just gotten better and better. He flags balls with the best of them, and he really puts accurate throws on every base.
Braun is having a magnificent season, at the plate and in the field. Let’s hope some others can match him.