With a couple of months from the end of the MLB baseball season behind our backs, and with all the emotions snatched by the freezing winter breeze and snowstorms in Wisconsin, I chose to return to my "Grading The Brewers" sequence.
Today, I will take a dive into the 2009 Brewers infield, and will provide statistics, share my opinions, and of course, give grades to the players that filled those positions last season.
I chose to start my reviews with the infield, to also include the catcher position, because that is where, I believe, one can find the two standout performers of the Brewers for the year.
While just about anybody following sports can guess that one of them is Prince Fielder, I suspect that only those following the team closely would guess that the other player I have in mind is Milwaukee native Craig Counsell.
So who were the most prominent figures that affected the fortunes of the team in general?
Jason Kendall, Mike Rivera, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, Bill Hall, Craig Counsell, Felope Lopez, Casey McGehee, Alcides Escobar, Hernan Iribarren and Mat Gamel; those are the players that recorded more than 10 games in the Brewers infield last season.
Before I continue with individual player reviews, I would like to look at the group as a whole.
Overall, Brewers fans should be happy with the way the infield players protected the abysmal pitching staff. The Brewers turned a total of 149 double plays, which ranks seventeenth among all thirty MLB franchises.
Although Rickie Weeks racked up six errors at second base in the early part of the season, and Felipe Lopez continued that trend to finish tied for first for errors across all second basemen, the fielding was good enough to keep the Brewers afloat during the first half of the season.
In terms of offense, the stars of the infield group of players undoubtedly were Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Felipe Lopez, and the consistent Casey McGehee and Craig Counsell.
Among the disappointments were JJ Hardy and Bill Hall, who batted themselves out of the club.
Many were also discouraged by the inconsistent play of Mat Gamel, who saw limited time at third base, which seemed to affect his overall performance, both at the major league and at the AAA level.
At the catcher position, many people were wondering why Rivera was not seeing more playing time at the expense of Jason Kendall, but the Brewers coaching staff insisted that Kendall was the only thing holding the pitching staff from completely falling apart.
Apparently, Macha and his staff believed that the starting rotation could perform even worse than they actually did.
Without further ado, I offer you my evaluation of the 2009 Brewers infield players.