After Keston Hiura was sent down to Triple-A in Nashville for the second time this season, it was unclear when he would return. One of the Brewers’ best hitters seemed lost at the plate. Would he even return in 2021?
That question was answered rather quickly. The Brewers infield got bit by the the injury bug once again. Kolten Wong was finally back after his second IL stint, but the Brewers had just lost Travis Shaw. Then, Daniel Vogelbach injured his hamstring and will be out for at least six weeks.
So the Brewers recalled Hiura once again on June 23rd. And so far, he has delivered. It’s a small sample size, but the current first baseman could have easily come up and not hit well again. Instead, he has added a jolt into the offense that Vogelbach was giving to Milwaukee and has been fantastic to see so far.
Keston Hiura has put 11 balls in play since returning on Wednesday. Seven have had an exit velocity of at least 100 mph.
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) June 27, 2021
2021 Before His Latest Call Up
Before getting sent down to the Nashville Sounds the first time, Hiura was batting .152. On May 2nd, he went 0-4 with one strike out during a 16-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Up until then, Hiura only had one home run and five RBIs. He had 30 strike outs through only 28 games.
After posting a .438/.526/.906 slash line in Triple A, Hiura returned to the team on May 24th. His second stint with the Brewers didn’t seem to improve. From late May until June 6th, Hiura’s batting average dropped to .130, he recorded 16 strike outs and had goose eggs for home runs and RBIs.
No one knew when one of the team’s best hitters would be able to make adjustments and return to anywhere close to his 2019 form. No one doubted he can hit and is a part of Milwaukee’s future, he just needed to find it.
After Vogelbach’s injury, Hiura was called up once again on June 23rd and was placed in the starting line-up. Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the social media comments when the Brewers announced this. Some fans should be embarrassed. They might have thought he was brought back up too soon again, but Milwaukee didn’t have many options.
Unless the Brewers would have made an immediate trade for a first baseman, Hiura was truly their best option. Hiura had two at-bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final game of their series. He went 0-2, but did draw a walk and did not have a strike out.
The Brewers then had their first off day after 16 straight games. Hiura played in all three of the games against the Colorado Rockies series for Re-Opening Day and 1980s Weekend. On Friday, number 18 was 1-4 with two strike outs. Those two strike outs didn’t really matter, because his one hit was a home run that brought in two runs and the Crew’s first two scores of the game. It was his first home run since April 10th. It wasn’t a hit, but his fly ball into the outfield brought home Manny Pina and the winning run in the 11th inning and gave the Brewers the victory.
On Saturday, June 26th, Hiura was 1-3 with another two strike outs. Strike outs are not great, but getting a hit was still something and helps raise that batting average and confidence.
Keston will probably not forget June 27th of 2021. Thanks to Hiura, the Brewers swept the Rockies, going two for four with a double, another home run and three RBIs. Milwaukee won 5-0. The California native was all smiles, and so were Brewers fans. A red hot Keston heading into an important series with the Chicago Cubs is a very good thing.
108 MPH. 423 ft.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 27, 2021
Lots of Season Left
Hiura still has some work to do. His WAR on the season is still -1.2 and a batting average below .150. His barrel percentage is at an all-time low while in the major leagues. The strike out percentage is still around 40%. He is still striking out at least once a game.
But Keston looks different. Whatever adjustments were made, it’s been working so far. The Milwaukee Brewers need more offensive power hitters, and Hiura fits that role. And it also seems like people keep forgetting that his mom is battling cancer. No matter how brave of a face you show, that’s not an easy thing to be going through. It doesn’t just leave you.
Hopefully, Wong’s injury over the weekend is nothing serious. He was red hot before coming out of Saturday’s game. Yelich is starting to get hot. Willy Adames is playing great, and his performance seems to be rubbing off on Luis Urias. Urias is going great as the replacement for Shaw since his injury. And now, with Hiura back, the Brewers offense should be able to take it up a notch going into the All-Star break.
Welcome back, Keston Hiura. Let’s keep it going.
Keston Hiura is now 60th in Brewers Franchise History with 35 home runs.
— Keston Hiura Hit List (@HiuraHitList) June 27, 2021