There is no denying that the Brewers’ acquisition of shortstop Willy Adames in May is one of the best moves of the year in the baseball world. But going beyond this year, it could end up being one of the most successful trades in franchise history.
At age 25, and with a guaranteed three more seasons of team control, Willy Adames could wind up being the best shortstop the team has had since Robin Yount moved to the outfield in 1985. Going into Sunday’s game against the Twins, Adames has put up an OPS of .920 since his move to Milwaukee. The only year a Brewer shortstop has put up an OPS over .900 (min. 100 ABs) was by the aforementioned Yount in his 1982 MVP campaign.
While it’s easy to get ahead of yourself thinking about what Adames might do in the future, it’s worth noting that even without Adames in the lineup the Brewers are set at shortstop for years to come.
The Backup Shortstop
Some fans may have soured on Luis Urias due to his slow start at the plate and struggles with errors in the field, but he has seemed to find his footing since the Brewers traded for Adames. The trade essentially bounced Urias from short to third, which isn’t ideal considering his errors come more from throwing than fielding. However, since he went from everyday shortstop to the utility man he is now, he is slashing .258/.338/.462 for an OPS of .800.
His ability to play shortstop gives the Brewers the ability to rest Adames when needed. He can even fill in for multiple games like he has lately with Adames missing time with a sore left quad. All the while, the Brewers will have a power bat at short. His home run on Sunday gives him 18 for the year, good for second most on the team behind only Avi Garcia.
With Adames hitting 17 home runs with the Brewers, that makes them just the fifth duo in AL/NL history to start at least 25% of their games at shortstop and hit at least 17 home runs. The first time it was done was in 1953 by Daryl Spencer (20 homers) and Al Dark (23) of the New York Giants.
It took 51 years for it to happen again when Jose Valentine (30) and Juan Uribe (24) did it for the Chicago White Sox. However, it has happened twice in the last four years. Both of those cases happened in Houston when they did it in 2017 with Carlos Correa (24) and Marwin Gonzalez (23). Then again in 2019 with Correa (21) and Alex Bregman (41).
An interesting thing about those first four teams to do it is their success in either the year they accomplished it or the year following. The Houston Astros won the World Series when they accomplished the feat in 2017, and then made the World Series but lost when they did it in 2019. While neither the 1953 Giants nor the 2004 White Sox made the playoffs the year they accomplished it, they both ended up winning the World Series the following year.
In fact, the combined record of the first four teams to accomplish it is 361-279-1 the year they accomplished it. But they were an even more impressive 328-210 the year after. That’s a winning percentage of .609 for the year after the feat. That’d be good for about 99 wins in a year. All four also made it to the Championship Series. Only the 2020 Astros falling short of the World Series.
You could come to the conclusion that having two power bats with the ability to play shortstop is an indicator of success either upcoming or in the present.
So no matter how you feel about the trade Stearns & Co. made in November of 2019 that shipped away the promising Trent Grisham, you can’t feel bad about the history they are now aligned the Brewers with. The question now is: are the Brewers winning the World Series this year or next year?