It was time for a shake-up. At least, it was in the eyes of Milwaukee Brewers’ management.
Following the dismal ending to the 2019 season, Brewers’ general manager David Stearns decided to shake up the roster. Outside of letting many players walk, Stearns made the move to acquire left-handed hurler Eric Lauer and young infielder Luis Urías from the San Diego Padres in exchange for rotation stalwart Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham. Management moved Grisham following his fielding blunder in right field in the 2019 Wild Card Game versus the eventual world champions, the Washington Nationals.
Davies and Grisham provided for the Padres as key contributors to a playoff-caliber team. They showed the organization that they can be reliable players in a future championship run. Lauer struggled in his first season with the Crew, spending most of his time at the team’s alternate training site.
Urías did not show up on the big league roster until August 10th (COVID-19 list), and over the course of 2020, he certainly did not live up to his potential.
Highs and Lows Offensively
Urías entered the big leagues with a lot of upside, both as a fielder and as an offensive weapon. Since entering the league, his offense has lacked severely to this point, but 2020 provided a slight uptick in his production. While he had a career-high batting average at .239 this season, Urías was below league average in batting average, on-base percentage (.308), and slugging percentage (.294). When he did hit the ball, it was a base hit nearly 34% of the time. Urías had a batting average on balls in play (BAbip) at .338 this season, and 64% of his at-bats led to a ball put in play (non-home run hit, non-strikeout out). If his batting average continues to increase for the next few seasons, Urías may turn into a good top-of-the-lineup hitter. But, for now, this remains to be seen.
As previously stated, Urías had a .294 slugging percentage this year, his worst year slugging-wise yet. Urías failed to hit any home runs in his first season in Milwaukee, and only put up 5 total extra-base hits over the course of 41 games played. While Urías has never been known to be the type to hit many home runs during the season, he has certainly seen better days at the plate. Because of his lack of extra-base hits, Urías had a career-low XBH% (4.2%) and career low X/H% (extra-base hits per hit, 19%). With the Brewers’ offense ranked towards the bottom of the league in extra-base hits, Luis Urías did not do much to help the team improve their situation.
Versatility Around The Infield
After spending his first two seasons between second base and shortstop, Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell played Urías at another position on the infield for plenty of games this season: third base. Urías made 30 appearances at third base this season, compared to only one game played there prior to 2020. He also spent time at second base (10 appearances) and shortstop (8) this season.
His defensive production showed in plenty of games this season, including this web gem against the Detroit Tigers in September:
Sweet sassy molassy, Luis Urías. This was challenged and is an out. pic.twitter.com/yIyO7mFxiV
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 9, 2020
Urías’s glove made him a key contributor down the stretch this season, as he committed only three errors all season (as opposed to the 10 he had in 71 games in 2019). This gave him a 96% fielding percentage on the year, which, if he had played enough games to qualify, would have put him among the best defenders in the league.
Overall Grade: C+
While Urías showed his defensive abilities and versatility during the 2020 campaign, his lack of offensive output is the reason why his grade is so low. He did see improvements in a couple of offensive categories, but his lack of power in his swing raised some concern for not only himself, but for the team’s future as well. If Urías shows significant offensive improvements over the course of the next few seasons, he has the potential to be a great leadoff hitter for the team for years to come.
(All statistics gathered from baseball-reference.com)
Other Brewers’ 2020 Report Cards
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