In May 2021, the Brewers made a mutually beneficial trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Brewers traded away two young arms from an abundance of pitching depth (J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen) to acquire pitcher Trevor Richards and shortstop Willy Adames in return.
Enter Willy Adames
Adames had already elevated himself to star status, but the Rays had budding superstar Wander Frando right behind him, rendering Willy Adames expendable to the Rays. Both teams obtained value from the trade and made the postseason, in no small part to the additions from the early trade.
In 2021, he played in 99 games for the Brewers, who went 64-35 with him. That equates to a 105-win (0.646 win%) pace for 162 games. Perhaps more shocking than the team’s win-loss is how Willy Adames stats fare between the wins and losses. In 2021, Adames slashed .319/.413/.605 when the Brewers won. Comparatively, his slash line dropped to .220/.270/.362 when the Brewers lost. Logically speaking, the offensive numbers being slightly higher in wins over losses would be reasonable, but this dramatic difference is hard to explain.
This would imply that Adames was the team’s sparkplug, at least in 2021. If Adames succeeded, the rest of the team rallied off of it. But this begs two questions: Is this observable in other years? and why?
Willy Adames Stats vs. Team Performance (A Case Study)
Looking at the slash lines for Brewers wins and losses in 2022, the Willy Adames stats were better in wins vs. losses, but the difference was much smaller, closer to what might be expected within standard variation. In 2022, Adames slashed .252/.318/.517 in wins, vs. .222/.275/.391 in losses. Adames definitely performed better, but nowhere close to the 2021 levels. In fact, Adames performed about the same in losses between 2021 and 2022 but saw a massive drop in production in wins.
Furthermore, the Brewers logged an 86-76 (0.531 win%) record in 2022, a massive drop compared to the 2021 pace. Whether the lack of Willy Adames production led to the lack of wins, or the lack of meaningful momentum inhibited him from going on a hot streak to propel the team, or it was simply the effects of the still-ired trade of then (struggling) closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres, is difficult to pin down the true cause.
What About the 2023 Willy Adames Stats?
So far in 2023, Adames is slashing a healthy .284/.369/.568 in Brewers victories and just a meager .123/.227/.138. This is only through the middle of May, but this massive disparity is worth tracking into the summer and fall months. Right now, though, it seems that when Willy Adames does something offensively, the Brewers wind up adding to the win column. The Brewers are 24-18 (.571 win%) at the time of writing, and we can only hope that Adames and the Brewers continue finding success.
All stats are sourced via the tools at statmuse.com.
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