When Luis Urias joined the crew in 2019, many thought the Brewers had found their everyday shortstop.
The Brewers acquired Urias in a trade with the San Diego Padres in exchange for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham. Eric Lauer was also apart of that trade.
However, as Grisham and Davies flourished in San Diego, both Eric Lauer and Urias weren’t as lucky. 2020 wasn’t the best year for Urias; He would miss the first half of Spring Training due to a fractured hamate bone, and once he was reactivated from that, the shutdown happened. Upon the restart of the shortened 2020 season, Urias would be struck with bad luck again as he would test positive for COVID. It wasn’t until August 10 that he would see some action in the big leagues.
An Improved Luis Urias
Coming into 2021, Urias has made a complete 180 and shown that he is a great fit in Milwaukee. On the year, he’s ranked among the top three in home runs (21), second in RBI’s (70), and posting a slash line of .250/.343/.444/.78 with an OPS+ of 109.
Compared to last season, Urias has become a stronger hitter. El Wicho has made some drastic improvements to his approach at the plate. His 27.4% hard hit percentage has jumped 13.8% to 41.2. He also has transformed his hitting style into more of the pop-fly instead of the ground outs. The flyball percentage increased from 10.4% to 25.3%, while his groundball percentage has dropped from 62.3% to 41.5%. Urias’ line drive rate has also increased to 21.7%; All these numbers are some of his best career wise.
Additionally, Urias has gone about changing up his stance at the plate. He’s taken more of a ‘lean-back’ approach compared to last season. Using a more open stance, he’s less stiff and bending at the knees more; he’s been eliminating the movement we were used to seeing in 2020. He’s shown more of a patient look, not moving the bat as much as he was when he would be awaiting a pitch.
Video 1: Luis Urias against the Chicago Cubs, 2020.
Video 2: Luis Urias against the Detroit Tigers, 2021
What about Defense?
Prior to acquiring Willy Adames, Luis Urias was the everyday shortstop. The Brewers thought that this would be the answer after Orlando Arcia didn’t perform to the hype that he received from fans.
While Urias’ bat might be heating up, the same can’t be said for his defensive efforts. Fielding at 2B, SS, 3B, he’s been below league average no matter where he plays. A combined total of 23 errors has been tacked onto Urias just this season; Not a very good look for someone who’s looking to have an everyday spot. He’s aided in 248 assists throughout the season at all three positions, but the errors still put some doubt in his defensive efforts.
The 24-year-old has shown he can provide lots of versatility when needed. Urias has played 66 games at SS, 62 games at 3B, and 24 at 2B. It looks as though he’s committed the most errors at SS, so it’s evident bringing in Willy Adames was the smart move.
Urias has made some amazing plays, however. Like that one time he made a diving catch against the Minnesota Twins.
Milwaukee has Willy Adames under team control until 2024, and one more contracted year with Kolten Wong with a 2023 club option, respectively. The team seems to have what they want right now, seeing as those they’re on their way to 100 wins.
However, when Kolten Wong’s club option comes up in 2023, there might be some decision making to do. Saying Wong continues to provide for the team, do we put Urias at 3B everyday?
What Does the Future Look Like?
With the way things are going, Escobar will hit the free agent market in 2022 and Urias will become the every day 3B. However, it would be more feasible to have him split time with Wong at 2B, given the fact that it would be more comfortable for him.
Urias has been able to cover the grounds wherever you put him; in terms of looking into the short term future, having the role as a Utility man isn’t a bad idea. Having a guy like Urias as a Utility Man has proven to be successful.
If Luis Urias can continue to stay healthy and keep the bat hot, he’ll be a vital piece of the lineup next season. Even if he’s not the everyday 2B or 3B, having his bat in a lineup would be extremely helpful.