It has not been a great stretch of recent games for the Milwaukee Brewers. After losing Garrett Mitchell, their starting center fielder, the team lost two games to the Boston Red Sox and are currently losing a series to the lowly Detroit Tigers. The injury bug has certainly bit the Brewers hard. In addition to Mitchell, Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Ashby will be out for extended periods of time. Sal Frelick, one of their top prospects, is out for up to eight weeks with a thumb injury.
Still, there is plenty to be excited about when it comes to this 2023 team. The offense, the last few games aside, has been much better than in 2022. Perhaps, though, the most glaring improvement from last season has been the team’s defense.
The Milwaukee Brewers May Have the Best Defense in the League
In a recent article in The Athletic, MLB writer Brittany Ghiroli described just how good the Brewers’ defense has been this year:
“In the wake of the no-shift rule, contact is becoming king. And with that, many people in the game believe, could come more emphasis on defense and defensive-minded players. Enter the Milwaukee Brewers, who could be one of the best defensive teams in baseball.
“Milwaukee doesn’t have a single position that’s negative in defensive runs saved and entered Sunday eight defensive runs saved ahead of second-place Arizona (17) with 25. The Brewers also rank fourth in outs above average. They were a middle-of-the-pack defensive team last year, finishing seventh in DRS (which includes pitch framing) and 14th in OAA (which does not).
“The move to add catcher William Contreras, who entered Sunday tied for second among catchers with four DRS, is already paying dividends. Two rookies, second baseman Brice Turang (four) and right fielder Joey Wiemer (four), are also tied for second in their positions. Losing rookie center fielder Garrett Mitchell, who has a torn labrum and is expected to miss most if not all of the season, is a blow as he had been an early catalyst for the Brewers’ success on both sides of the ball.
“Milwaukee, despite a weekend series loss in Boston, has played well in the first few weeks of the season as it’s capitalized on a slow start from St. Louis. While several national pundits pegged the Brewers as sellers at the trade deadline before the season began, Milwaukee has been fueled by its youngsters so far, pared down payroll and all.”
For most of this past offseason, fans were disappointed in the Brewers’ front office and ownership for its lack of moves in free agency. Additionally, many fans found the Hunter Renfroe trade unpopular. Despite this, the additions that the Brewers did make have paid off so far, especially on defense.
As Ghiroli notes above, William Contreras (a trade acquisition), Brice Turang (rookie) and Joey Wiemer (rookie) are all among the best defensive players at their position. The inclusion of Contreras here is significant as defense was actually one of the things he needed to improve upon despite being an All-Star last season. The Brewers coaching staff has continued to display their knack for turning subpar defensive catchers into above average defenders.
The Milwaukee Brewers Bench Players Have Stepped Up
Other Milwaukee Brewers regulars that have missed include Luis Urias and Tyrone Taylor. These players left significant holes on the field and at the plate. In their absence, bench players and other utility players have made sure that the defense remains top-notch:
- Owen Miller: 1.000 fielding percentage while playing second base, third base, right field, and left field
- Brian Anderson: 1.000 fielding percentage while playing third base and right field
Both of these players, too, were offseason additions by the Brewers. Miller was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Guardians for a player to be named later. Anderson was a rare free agent signing by the Brewers.
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