Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/9/14
Mets_vs_brewers_a1bb

From last Friday's season preview of the Milwaukee Brewers...

Burning Question
Can Mat Gamel come close to adequately replacing Prince Fielder at first base?

It's not really possible to replace a player as good as Prince Fielder. He has a career .930 OPS and 230 homers, and he doesn't turn 28 until May. He has five straight seasons of at least 30 homers, and had a .981 OPS last season. He's racked up 23.4 fWAR over his career, and hasn't played in less than 157 games in a full season, including at least 160 over the last three seasons.

But he's no longer a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, and they need to replace him somehow. Their choice is 26 year-old Mat Gamel, who like Ryan Braun, came up through Milwaukee's system as a third baseman, but had such terrible defense that he needed to be shifted off of the position. But the comparison between Gamel and Braun has more than just defense to it: Gamel can really hit. He's spent the majority of the last three seasons at AAA (yeah, I know), and has put up OPSes of .840, .898, and .912 at the level. As he's progressed at AAA, Gamel has worked out the kinks in his plate discipline, going from a 27.8% strikeout rate in 2009 to a 15.4% strikeout rate in 2011. His walk rate has steadily decreased as well, going from 11.9% to 8.4%, but the drop isn't nearly as severe as his drop in strikeouts. Gamel has also improved his power in each of his three AAA seasons. His ISO went from .194 in 2009, to .203 in 2010, to .229 in 2011. 

Despite his minor league success, Gamel hasn't been able to put it all together in the majors so far. He's gotten 194 career plate appearances, and has a .683 OPS with a 34.5% strikeout rate. Most of those plate appearances came in 2009, and he has only gotten 44 plate appearances in the last two seasons. Because of the small sample sizes over the last two years, it's hard to get a feel on Gamel as a major league player. I would take everything lately with a grain of salt though, as he was mostly getting pinch hit appearances as opposed to regular playing time to get a rhythm for himself.

As a starter in 2012, Gamel will get every chance to prove himself as a worthy starter. With the addition of slugger Aramis Ramirez at third base this season, the goal of Milwaukee isn't necessarily to replace Fielder with Gamel. They're essentially replacing Fielder and 2011 third baseman Casey McGahee with Gamel and Ramirez. If you look at it from that standpoint, it's much more conceivable that the Brewers can can somewhat close to the production they got in 2011 this season. It's comparable to the approach that the Cardinals took when Albert Pujols left town this season, replacing him with Carlos Beltran and shifting Lance Berkman to first base, which will offset the offensive deficit from going to Pujols to Beltran by improving the team's defense. Milwaukee is looking at the team as a whole, as opposed to each part singularly.

[follow]

{loadposition content4}

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Several teams interested in Bucs' No. 1 overall pick?

Report: Marcus Smart overslept, could get less playing time

Report: Adam Wainwright likely done for the season

DeMarco Murray: 'I'm not worried about the Cowboys'

Turner has great quote in defense of Bridgewater

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Gary Bettman's quote about expansion makes no sense

Beltre sends Richards invoice for three broken bats

Herschel Walker: Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson

Report: Raiders fielding calls about fourth overall pick

WATCH: UAB football player brings helmet to graduation

Andrew Luck to students: 'I'm only 25, I don't have advice'

WATCH: JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder in face

WATCH: Kevin Love leaves Game 4 with shoulder injury

Joe Flacco content with current Ravens receivers

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

Jim Rice to Jim Palmer: 'Quit complaining'

Time Warner-Comcast failed merger hurts Dodgers fans

WATCH: Bucks mascot devours fan

Protestors tried to have Orioles-Red Sox game called off

Greg Hardy abandons his Bentley during flash flood

WATCH: LeBron James hits full-court shot after practice

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder

Report: Wainwright likely done for year

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Sanchez shares thoughts on Tebow

Stephen A. Smith blasts Tom Brady

Kris Humphries apologizes for Jenner tweet

Five most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.