It is still early. But, the MLB 2020 season is 10 percent over after the first week of August. The Milwaukee Brewers are off to a slow start at the plate, including first base. That needs to change for the Brewers to be competitive.
First basemen so far
Justin Smoak is the current first baseman for the Brewers. He is on a one-year, $5 million deal with a club option for 2021.
After the first two series, Justin Smoak has 11 strikeouts, a .174 batting average, a .240 OBP and had a costly error on Tuesday night’s game against Pittsburgh that cost several runs and a total change in momentum.
Smoak does have four hits including a double and a home run. It shows some potential, but currently not the comeback season he was primed for coming into the 2020 season. Smoak is swinging at way too many change ups and sliders, and that needs to change or pitchers will know how to take him down pretty quickly.
As of this week, Smoak has one of the highest swing and miss rates in the league at almost 50 percent.
Logan Morrison, the feel good story of the Brewers roster, has also been splitting time at first base and DH for the Crew.
So far, Morrison has yet to record a hit with eight at-bats, including two strikeouts.
Now before anything changes, the Brewers will definitely have to wait and see how the first home stretch goes. But, if the first base position doesn’t improve, Milwaukee will have to do something.
Healy has solid experience at first base. He has played 181 games at first over his career, and many were shocked when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. This might be the easiest option for the Brewers. This means someone like Morrison or Holt would most likely be designated, but you have to watch out for player options as well. Nottingham was just recalled, but he or another pitcher could also be sent back down if needed.
Braun came up quite a bit before the start of the 2020 season. Braun could still be an option, but his recent injuries don’t make him a great candidate. He has only played DH so far, and playing first would only add to his existing injuries. When your manager is putting in a pitch runner for you during the sixth game of the season, he probably doesn’t want you running around first base. Braun doesn’t need to get clipped on the ankle by a Manny Machado type either.
But, Braun might not have a choice if he wants more at-bats or time in the field. With Ben Gamel emerging, Braun’s chances in the outfield might be limited. Garcia is playing great, Cain is off to a strong and comeback season and benching Yelich would be the wrong choice, no matter how big of a slump he gets in.
Brock Holt isn’t an ideal first base candidate, but he does have experience at the position. Holt has 36 starts at first, including 11 during the 2019 season. He has shown some great flashes early on so far, and if his bat can improve he might be a great plug-in if the Brewers don’t want to bring up Healy right away.
Trade/Free Agent Signing
Making a trade before August 31st is definitely possible for the Brewers. Right now, one involving a first baseman should not be in the works. On the other hand, if some solid numbers can’t be produced, it might be needed to compete for a playoff spot.
The other option is to try and find someone to sign. There are some options available, but not a lot. Can they bring Mark Reynolds out of retirement? Can they get Gerardo Parra to come back to America to play? Highly doubtful. And complications like Covid19 don’t help the matter.
No need to panic
In reality, someone out of the Smoak/Morrison/Healy group should emerge. Braun and Holt can definitely help if needed. But, the Brewers offense needs to wake up. There were flashes during the first Pittsburgh series. There needs to be more, and that includes the first spot 90 feet down the base path.