ESPN released their new Power Rankings and finally, the Brewers were released from the clamps of the No. 24 spot. For what seemed to be an eternity, they moved neither up nor down, making me wonder if they were going to be stuck there for the final weeks of the season. However, all is good in the world and our friends over at ESPN deemed them worthy of being moved up, placing them at the No. 22 spot in this week’s rankings.
As I noted in my comments, the biggest storyline of the post-Lucroy/Jeffress era has to be the callup of Orlando Arcia. The phenom shortstop has been dazzling Brewers fans for a long time in the Minors and he now gets the chance to show off his skills on a nightly basis to Wisconsinites across the state through Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Arcia initially began in the lower half of the lineup, as Craig Counsell wanted him to begin his MLB stint with the least amount of pressure on him. In recent games, he has been promoted to the No. 2 spot in the order — why is that important? Many see Arcia filling out his true potential at that area of the order. If his bat continues to expand and his contact continues to grow, it’ll pave the way for an OPS to keep trending up. Once the Brewers develop more big bats as the years progress at the No. 3 and 4 spots, they’ll be cooking. Development is still a pivotal element for Arcia at the MLB level, and this is just one of the obstacles he’ll work on tackling.
The No. 2 hitter has evolved through the years, but it recently has transpired into a pattern that has echoed throughout the Major Leagues. Most players in the No. 2 spot have floated around a slash of .263/.320/.396. This is all after the steroid era of baseball. If one were to go back a decade or so, the OBA of No. 2 hitters was near .338 and the slugging percentage .424 (USA TODAY Sports). The current line is something that Arcia could most definitely develop into, perhaps by the end of this season if he gets hot enough. At the bare minimum, it’s something we could prioritize for him to begin 2017.
Now, I’m not comparing Arcia to these following players, I’m just going to notice a similarity. Many All-Star players have produced at the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Manny Machado, Joe Mauer, Yasiel Puig, Torii Hunter, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and many others have all hit in the No. 2 hole at times in their careers. If everything goes accordingly with Arcia, hopefully we’ll see him turn into an All-Star that can join that list.
The other interesting dynamic that has been fun to keep an eye on is Tyler Thornburg. With the removal of Jeffress from the bullpen, Thornburg is being relied on in save opportunities — and he may play a vital part of Milwaukee’s future. Whether it be as the future closer once the team reaches contention or if he’ll be used as a trade chip at the Winter Meetings, it’s definitely worth your time to stay up with what’s new with him. Our Steve Alstadt recently wrote a piece in regards to the beginning of the Tyler Thornburg era. You should definitely read it if you haven’t yet.
We have made it into the twilight of the season (for us Brewers fans, at least). The trade deadline has come and gone and we are now into the soon-to-be waning days of August. September call-ups are right around the corner and the Brewers have some intriguing names they could bring up, with Josh Hader leading the way. So to translate: The most fun part of the season has passed, but even if they lose a majority of their remaining games, there will always be something to discuss with this Brewers team.