With ground balls in decline, Brewers trust Mike Moustakas at second

PHOENIX — Mike Moustakas has carried out 8,070 defensive innings in his important league career, and an additional 3,057 in the minors. He’s not spent a single second as his crew’s second baseman in the widespread season, nonetheless that will rapidly change.

On Monday afternoon in his office at Milwaukee’s spring teaching facility in Maryvale, Brewers supervisor Craig Counsell made it official: Moustakas will be his membership’s starting second baseman this season. It’s not a shock, in any case. That was the intention when the Brewers launched the individual recognized best as Moose once more to Milwaukee on a one-year free-agent deal, and it’s not similar to the career third baseman had executed one thing this spring to point he wasn’t in a position to making the change to second base.

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“He’s handled the game action flawlessly,” Counsell said.

Moustakas hasn’t executed lots of one thing with the glove all through spring video video games, actually. He’s carried out 40 innings at second this spring, and the ball’s been hit to him solely 14 cases. He’s made three putouts and has 11 assists up to now this spring. In 4 innings Monday, a couple of hours after he was formally named the starter, he didn’t have a single defensive different.

And then there’s this nugget: He has however to see a double-play different this spring. Think about that. Milwaukee’s starting second baseman on Opening Day has, with about two weeks left in spring, under no circumstances tried to point out a aggressive double play as a second baseman.

And please don’t take this as any form of criticism of Moustakas or Milwaukee’s defensive vetting course of. It’s faraway from that. Counsell made the commentary that Moustakas’ lack of options at second this spring are additional of a reflection of the state of the game than the remaining.

So we decided to dig a little bit of deeper.

As you actually know, strikeout numbers have soared in present years. MLB batters struck out a file 41,207 cases last season — the file was solely 29,937 heading into 1998, as some extent of comparability — and for the first time important league historic previous in 2018 there have been additional strikeouts than hits. Home runs are up nowadays, too. Three of the 4 highest season dwelling run totals have come in the earlier three years.

So with these two “true outcomes” (walks being the third “true outcome”) skyrocketing, the number of possibilities for a second baseman akin to Moustakas are dwindling. The days of merely attempting to make contact and hit the ball on the ground are, for basically probably the most half, prolonged gone.

“That goes into the equation,” Counsell said. “The ball’s not being put into play a ton. It’s just not.”

Let’s take a look at the numbers. Here are the widespread possibilities for a second baseman per 9 innings by decade going once more to 1968.

1968: 5.28
1978: 5.51
1988: 5.27
1998: 5.08
2008: 4.99
2018: 4.29

That 4.29 amount is certainly the underside in MLB historic previous. And it could not seem like an infinite drop at first look — on widespread, second basemen observed roughly one fewer fielding likelihood per sport in 2018 in distinction with 1988 — nonetheless that’s a giant proportion drop. Second basemen last yr observed 18.6 % fewer possibilities than 30 years in the previous.

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Another strategy to look at this: In 1998, Fernando Vina led MLB second basemen with 5.75 possibilities per 9 innings and 884 full possibilities in 1,382 2/3 innings. In 2018, Scooter Gennett led MLB second basemen (with at least 1,000 innings at the place) with 4.95 possibilities per 9 innings and 665 full possibilities in 1,210 innings.

It’s the similar issue for shortstops. They’re seeing fewer possibilities per 9 innings than at any stage in MLB historic previous.

1968: 5.08
1978: 5.08
1988: 4.81
1998: 4.76
2008: 4.53
2018: 4.01

So Milwaukee’s vetting course of on Moustakas has had additional to do with what they know of him and what they’ve seen on the observe self-discipline than what has occurred in video video games up to now.

“He’s got very good feet. He’s got very good hands. He’s not going to have high-end range,” Counsell said. “But he’s got very good feet and very good hands, and that can accomplish a lot. And he’s very instinctual as a player.”

But the dearth of spring options?

“There are,” Counsell admitted, “going to be things that’ll happen during the season that happen to him for the first time.”

But solely 4.29 (or fewer) possibilities for one factor new to happen to him for the first time all through the season, which is far much less relating to than the 5.27 possibilities that will have been coming his technique in 1988.

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