Milwaukee Brewers’ Norichika Aoki (7) is out at the bag as Colorado Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco takes the throw during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 3, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Now that the entire Milwaukee Brewers universe is focused on the future at first, it is easy to forget that the Crew will be without tested right fielder Norichika Aoki next year.
I go to the University of Missouri, so I know a lot of Kansas City fans. Needless to say I was flooded with messages from excited Royals fans when Aoki was dealt to the Royals for Will Smith two weeks ago.
I can understand their enthusiasm- I loved Aoki. I was one of the first on the Aoki bandwagon when the Brewers signed him in 2012 and I have been pleased with his production ever since.
With that said, Aoki is gone now and without him the Brewers will likely rely on Khris Davis to be an everyday starter in the outfield.
For this to work, the Brewers will have to move Braun from left to right field and start Davis at left. Several reports indicate that the Brewers plan on doing this in 2014.
The most obvious problem with this alignment is the fact that Davis is a relatively untested second year player who only got playing time last year because he had a great spring training that took everyone by surprise. His performance in Maryvale got him on the opening day roster, but Davis only ended up playing 56 regular season games.
That said, in the games he did play in last year Davis batted .279 and hit 11 home runs. Davis’ power hitting ability should make up for the dip in batting average. In fact, Davis might actually be an upgrade over Aoki in the long run if he can replicate his numbers from last year over the entire season.
Another concern may be the fact that Ryan Braun has never played right in his MLB career. In all honesty, this shouldn’t be that big of a problem because right field is much easier to play than left and Braun has switched positions before (from shortstop to third at the beginning of his career, and from third to left in 2008). In fact, Brewers fans should actually be more concerned with Davis’ fielding abilities than Braun’s transition.
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When it comes down to it, I think that moving Braun over and putting Davis in left is the right move and I cannot even begin to describe my excitement about Davis moving forward.
Ever since I saw Davis play during Spring Training last year I’ve wanted the Brewers to get him more involved, and he now has the chance to turn the Brewers outfield into a ‘tremendous trio’ (you heard it here first) with Davis, Braun, and Carlos Gomez. Home runs should go up with Davis in the day-to-day lineup and the batting average should stay about the same. This is the best-case scenario for the Brewers, they won’t have to give up any prospects in a trade or give up any cash signing a big time free agent.
As long as Davis delivers, the outfield should be much stronger next year than it was in 2013.
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