For the first time in what feels like forever, the Brewers have a lot of ways they can go with their batting order for the 2023 season. Manager Craig Counsell isn’t known for finding a lineup that works and sticking with it. He would prefer to play matchups and use platoons as much as possible. Part of that could be due to the fact the Brewers haven’t had hitters consistent enough at the plate to play every day. With a limited payroll, Milwaukee has historically brought in players with less expensive skill sets.
As bad as that may sound, it has worked out more often than not and has allowed Counsell to be creative. Even though I expect platoons to be used in 2023, I don’t think they’ll be as needed as often as they have in seasons past. A lot of that will depend on how quickly the young guns acclimate to major league pitching. If that process is short, we could see the same batting order consistently that is balanced and produces offense in different ways.
The Batting Order
- Sal Frelick (L)
- William Contreras (R)
- Rowdy Tellez (L)
- Willy Adames (R)
- Christian Yelich (L)
- Brian Anderson (R)
- Jesse Winker (L)
- Luis Urias (R)
- Garrett Mitchell (L)
- Top Option: Sal Frelick. Next Best: Christian Yelich. As successful as Yelich was leading off last season, that’s not where you want your highest paid player to be hitting, especially when he only hit .252. Enter, Sal Frelick. Even though he hasn’t seen a pitch in a major league game, he looks like the ideal leadoff hitter for the Brewers. He had a huge 2022 in the minors which led to a .406 on base percentage and 163 hits across 3 stops. The kid can flat out hit and has continued that trend in spring training and the World Baseball Classic. Oh yea, and he can steal bases.
- Top Option: William Contreras. Next Best: Sal Frelick. I’m not sure how I feel about using Contreras here, but I love the idea of alternating lefties and righties throughout the lineup. Getting power out of the 2 hole while not losing much average or on base skill help as well. In an ideal world, you have a hitter here with better wheels, but that’s where Frelick comes into play if he isn’t leading off. He may not have the power ceiling teams like to see from a 2 hole hitter, but he has gap to gap power for days.
- Top Option: Rowdy Tellez. Next Best: William Contreras. This continues to trend of alternating sides of the plate. Typically you’d want someone here that is a better overall hitter where Rowdy has basically just been power. However, he hit .272 in 2021 and had 2 years better than that with Toronto. His average last season was the worst of his career and I expect it to improve in 2023. If alternating left and right doesn’t matter, Contreras is my pick here and honestly, is probably the better move for lineup production overall.
- Top Option: Willy Adames. Next Best: Jesse Winker. Willy is the Brewers biggest run producer so putting him in the 4 hole made the most sense. He has 2 players in front of him that can get on base and a third that makes pitchers work. Coming up with runners on base or the ability to start a second rally would be huge. I also could see a scenario where Winker has a great year and fits in here with Adames being bumped up to the third spot in the order.
- Top Option: Christian Yelich. Next Best: Willy Adames. Being able to start the bottom half of your order with a previous MVP who was able to get on base at a high clip in 2022 is great. Yelich may not hit for the same kind of power he used to, but I expect him to rebound at some point. He has shown some pop this spring and tweaked his swing during the off-season. Adames is an option here as well if he doesn’t improve on his number from last season or if a hitter or two step up.
- Top Option: Brian Anderson. Next Best: Luis Urias. Yes this continues the trend of alternating sides of the plate, but also brings up a player with good bat to ball skills and power potential. I don’t expect Anderson to blow past 30 homers or hit .300, but 25/.270/.360 seem like extremely reasonable numbers to hope for. Urias would also be a good option here as he is due for a rebound season and played great in the WBC.
- Top Option: Jesse Winker. Next Best: Brian Anderson. Putting Winker here is solely to keep the left and right handed hitters alternating, with the hope that the batters in front of him get on base enough for him to be a bottom of the lineup clean up hitter. I expect him to hit well enough to hit in the top 5 but I love the idea of have a balanced lineup. Anderson would also be a solid option here if his power never fully comes back.
- Top Option: Luis Urias. Next Best: Brice Turang. This seems like a great spot for Urias as he can bring some pop and extra base hits. He struggled last season but a lot of that can be attributed a spring training injury. I also like the potential of Turang here. If he earns playing time for the big league club, starting him in a spot with less pressure would be helpful.
- Top Option: Garrett Mitchell. Next Best: Brian Anderson/ Mike Brosseau. This seems like the perfect spot for Mitchell this season. Even though he had a hot start to the spring, power isn’t a huge part of his game at the moment. If the 9th spot in the order can act as another leader off hitter, that’s awesome. he has the speed to cause problems when he gets on base and hit .311 in limited action last season. I don’t expect that average this year, but even .275 would be amazing. Either of the third basemen could slide in here as well as they are likely struggling with consistency if one hasn’t seized more playing time.
The Brewers may not have signed any big name free agents this season, but the roster has a lot of lineup versatility and potential. Even though I favor a lineup that keeps opposing pitchers off balance, I can see the lineup being catered more to player strengths. With my ideal 9, pitchers can never get completely settled, it can work against righties or lefties and almost acts as two different lineups.
This roster has enough talented pieces to set up a consistent batting order that produces runs from top to bottom. I fully expect to see more runs scored more consistently this season and fewer innings ending in ugly strikeouts. I tried to balance expectations with growth potential and it doesn’t take inevitable injuries into account. With that said, if the lineup ends up looking different because a player or two breakout, you won’t catch me complaining.
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