Certainly, it’s impossible to ignore the great start Mike Cameron has provided the Brewers in April and the early days of May during this season.
We shouldn’t ignore, however, the starts of three other Brewer hitters in the top third of qualified (3.1 PA/team game) NL position players by Value Wins this season.
Unsurprisingly to all Brewer fans, Ryan Braun is one of these three players.
Braun’s 7.4 value runs through 25 team games projects to approximately 48 value runs for the whole season, for 4.8 value wins, eclipsing last year’s 3.9 wins.
Braun’s production has come nearly entirely with the bat, as between positional adjustments and UZR, Braun has been worth -3.3 runs in the field. Thanks to 3.5 playing time runs and 7.2 batting runs, Braun still possesses a high amount of value. His value at the plate is elevated this year due to higher plate discipline (a 14.0% walk rate more than doubles his 2007 and 2008 values) and nine extra base hits in 104 PAs.
One spot above Braun on the list is Rickie Weeks. After multiple years with multiple analysts claiming it was Rickie’s "Breakout" Year, Weeks is showing the signs of being the all-star caliber player we’ve hoped for.
Weeks does Braun 0.1 better, with 7.5 value runs after 25 games which similarly projects to 48 value runs and 4.8 value wins. Weeks has made strides in all facets of his game, most notably on defense, where Rickie has been 2.9 runs above average already with the glove.
Rickie has been a bit above average with the bat (+0.6 runs), and that combined with plus defense at a premium position makes Rickie a solid player through 25 games.
Easily the most unlikely player of the three to make this list is Bill Hall, but he’s managed to do so with 6.7 value runs. Hall has been solid at defense wherever he’s played over his career, with a positive career UZR at SS, 3B, and CF. This year, Hall is at +0.4 runs at 3B, for a total +0.8 fielding number with the position adjustment.
Of course, what’s been surprising about Hall this year is the revival his bat is seeing. Hall’s seen a boost in power so far, with an ISO at .198 about 30 points higher than the last 2 years. Hall is striking out less and walking slightly more.
Hall’s fast start, however, has been powered by a .356 BABIP, and could be due for some regression. Still, it’s been an encouraging start for Billy and even with some regression, we’re still due for a much better season than last year.
These three Brewers have been integral in keeping the Brewers near .500 early. If they can keep up their production, and some of the stragglers (Fielder, Kendall) start to produce closer to their true talent level, this team could catch fire and string together some wins.