The Milwaukee Brewers have been a tough team to figure out in 2013.
They started out 2-8, won nine-straight to move three games over .500 before losing nine of 10 to fall to 15-20.
The Brewers topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Monday night to help break out of that funk, but it was an interesting offensive gameplan that helped Milwaukee do so.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke sat Rickie Weeks after playing him in 35-straight games and seeing a .181 batting average in return. Roenicke also reluctantly sat slugger Ryan Braun with a stiff neck Monday night, giving the manager two open slots in the lineup to tinker with.
The result? An idea I can get behind.
Milwaukee batted Norichika Aoki in his regular leadoff role, had Jean Segura bat second and then inserted Carlos Gomez into the No. 3 spot for the first time in his career.
The result? The trio went 7-for-14 with six stolen bases.
It’s an incredibly small sample size, being just one game (against the Pirates too), but it’s an idea that just might work for the Brewers.
Here’s my suggestion for a regular lineup for Milwaukee:
No. 1 – Nori Aoki, RF
No. 2 – Jean Segura, SS
No. 3 – Carlos Gomez, CF
No. 4 – Ryan Braun, LF
No. 5 – Aramis Ramirez, 3B
No. 6 – Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B
No 7 – Rickie Weeks, 2B
No. 8 – Jonathan Lucroy, C
Before I address why I think the lineup would work, let me preemptively rebuke the potential counter-arguments.
Ryan Braun is one of the best hitters in the league! He belongs in the No. 3 hole.
The first part of that statement is 100 percent correct. The second half? Only true if you buy into traditional baseball logic. The argument for that logic is that you want your No. 3 hitter to be up as many times as possible with a chance to drive in runs. With Segura and Gomez both within the top five in the league in on-base percentage, the number of at-bats for Braun would not go down by a substantial amount, and the at-bats where someone would be on base would logically go up.
The Brewers shouldn’t steal with their power hitters up!
Why not? If the base-stealers are successful, let them keep doing it. Segura is leading the league with 13 stolen bases, while Gomez and Aoki have eight and six, respectively. Combined, the trio has a stolen base percentage of 77 percent on the season, above the unwritten 75-percent threshold that the elite base-stealers are judged against. If the Brewers can play the numbers and advance their runners into scoring position, why not do it?
My argument as to why Milwaukee should employ this line-up:
It highlights the Brewers’ current strengths and attempts to play them off each other to score as many runs as possible. If Milwaukee is going to make a run this season, it isn’t going to be with dominant pitching performances. The Brewers currently rank last in the NL with a staff ERA of 4.60 and an opponent batting average of .270.
Braun certainly has experience in the No. 4 role, as Milwaukee tinkered with him and Prince Fielder during the duo’s tenure together with the Brewers. The role for Braun would be no different one slot lower, but there would simply be more opportunities for men to be on base while he’s up.
The move would also take some of the burden off Aramis Ramirez as he continues to round into form coming off his knee injury. A potent No. 5 hitter is something that Milwaukee has needed as long as this current crop of players has been relevant, and having a perennial 100-RBI player in that hole certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Brewers.
As long as Gomez and Segura keep hitting at the clip they’re at, it makes a lot of sense to get them as many at-bats as possible. The opportunities for Braun and Ramirez to drive them in will still come, but Roenicke should seriously consider bucking the traditional baseball logic – at least for a while.
What’s the harm? Milwaukee is still under .500 and needs to figure out something to catch the likes of Cincinnati and St. Louis in the N.L. Central.