Along with first base, the second base position has been a revolving door since Rickie Weeks held it down from 2005-2014. Ever since then, the starters have been Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Villar, and most recently, Keston Hiura. The uncertainties at first and third base created a domino effect to shuffle the infield around. To fill in those holes, Keston Hiura will be the primary first baseman while sharing time with Daniel Vogelbach. In addition to that, Travis Shaw and Orlando Arcia will share time at third base.
As we know, the Brewers signed free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong to a 2-year $18 million contract with a club option for a third year. Since the Brewers are paying him that much, he’ll be the primary second baseman.
Meet Kolten Wong
The Cardinals’ 2011 first-round draft pick is changing scenery for the first time in his career. Wong is entering his ninth season in the majors and his first with the Brewers. He enjoyed hitting at Miller Park during his tenure with the Cardinals; .855 OPS, 60 hits, and 23 RBI’s. The numbers show he utilizes the deep outfield in American Family Field, and there’s no doubt he’ll continue that trend within the Brewers’ offense.
As Spring Training comes to a close and the regular season starts, Wong closes his stellar spring with four home runs, 11 hits, and a slugging percentage of 1.097 in 36 at-bats. To go along with his offensive success, Wong adds his two gold-gloves to the Brewers infield. The long-time Cardinals’ lead-off hitter is hoping to stay in that role going forward with the Brewers.
The Brewers value versatility in their players, and that’s what makes the team blend so well together. With Kolten Wong as the primary second baseman, what other options do the Brewers have?
With Luis Urías put on the back burner for most of last season; he started in 31 games, Urias gets the nod to share shortstop with Orlando Arcia. This season Arcia will shift over to third base but will still play at short. We all know how Craig Counsell loves to play matchups, so having too much versatility isn’t a bad thing to have. In his career with the Brewers and Padres, Urias has played 48 games at second base. He also has experience at third base and shortstop. The former Padres top-prospect is a viable candidate to split time at second base with Kolten Wong.
The Brewers added more versatility to their roster by signing Daniel Robertson this offseason. Robertson is comparable to former Brewer Hernan Perez because he can play multiple positions. The new Brewers’ utility-man has played every position except for center field and catcher. Out of every position, Robertson has played the most games at second base with 109 games under his belt.
The long-awaited debut of Keston Hiura was worth it not only because he can hit, but the Brewers finally had a primary second baseman. He quickly molded into that role once Travis Shaw started to struggle in 2019. Hiura has 130 games under his belt at second base. Since he’s familiar with the position, he would be an asset to the position as a candidate for Wong’s back-up; when Hiura isn’t playing first base.
The basis of his position change to first is most likely his defensive struggles at second base, but he’s still capable of playing there. Hiura is emerging as one of the Brewers’ power bats, and it’s refreshing to see power come from an infielder.
Honorable mention: Travis Shaw
Travis Shaw started playing second base when he first was a Brewer in 2018. Shaw only has 41 games logged at second base, and 39 of them were played in 2018; the other two in 2019. Certainly, Shaw will play a majority of the time at third base, but he is still an option to play some games at second.
All of these players are viable candidates to split time with Kolten Wong at second base. More playing time at second base works in Urias’s, Robertson’s, and Hiura’s favor because Wong is a left-handed hitter. The ability to have players work from either side of the plate is Craig Counsell’s M.O. to craft the perfect lineup.