Absolutely nothing. Unless you happen to be Craig Counsell and the Brew Crew. By now we are well versed in the failure of the Brewers, service time manipulation, and lack of desire to put a winning lineup on the field. They should have learned from Angels that you can’t make it to playoffs on the back of one superstar outfielder. If Mike Trout can’t do it, what makes you think Christian Yelich and a gimpy back can (plus now a broken patella)? As of now writing this post, the Brewers are sitting in the second wildcard spot, 2 games ahead of the Cubs and 3 games behind the division-leading Cardinals. Allow me to give you 2 numbers 725 and 737. Runs Scored (RS) and Runs Allowed (RA). Right now the Brewers have a -12 Run Differential (RD). Opponents have scored more runs than they have; let that sink in a minute. The next lowest team playing for a wildcard spot is the Rays with a +111 RD. The Cubs are +113.
What is WAR? Wins above replacement player. It’s an attempt to estimate a player’s total contribution to the team; more-so, how many wins do that add to the team above the contribution of a replacement-level player (minimum cost bench player). A team entirely consisting of replacement-level players would be expected to win around 50 games. I feel like a much thinner, more attractive Jonah Hill playing Peter Brand; there’s an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. They were buying players, not buying wins. Sure, Travis Shaw has been a good story. But baseball can be a cold cruel mistress and slap you down after raising you up.
The Brewers holding down Hiura when he was clearly ready for The Show, both baffled and infuriated me. In a tight and competitive division, they kept running both Shaw and Aguilar out there day by day while Hiura’s bat was wasted on AAA pitching. Coming into the season Hiura was a top 15 prospect in all of baseball. Following the 2018 season, Hiura won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League when his power really began to take off. His primary asset though is his 60-70 grade hit tool. General consensus coming into the season was, as a pure hitter, he was second only to Vlad Jr., few even thought he might be better… On to the numbers!
Out of the gate in AAA (his first taste), he started pretty much where he left off through the first month, but with a small caveat. 24 games in the books, he had 30 Ks to only 4 walks. The tools were there though: 7 HRs, 17 RBIs, .318 AVG, and 1 SB to boot. Meanwhile, Travis Shaw had a few isolated HRs but struggled mightily at the dish including 38 Ks. It was the beginning of the season so I can’t fault them there, many hitters have struggled early then find their way out later. Also, they no-doubt wanted to give Hiura time to adjust more to the next level of pitching and get the Ks under control. Footnote: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Day (his call-up) was April 24th.
Fast-forward to May 13th, Hiura is called up after continuing to improve and making his case he was ready for the next level. He increased his total statline to 11 HRs in a month and a half of AAA. And in those 13 days, Keston had only 10 Ks and 11 BBs; he had adjusted to the AAA pitchers. Shaw, however, continued to get worse with no offense to speak of and Ks ballooning to 50. The Brewers gave Hiura a shot and sent Shaw down.
Much like his introduction to AAA, Hiura came out swinging and showed he could hang despite the small caveat again of K/BB. In 17 games before being sent back down on June 2nd, he had accrued 23 Ks and only 3 BBs, but the stick was definitely there. Many, including myself, were confused by the Brewer’s decision to send him back down and bring Shaw back up. Clearly, Hiura was excelling and Shaw was still struggling to find his way. Something indeed is rotten in the state of Denmark!
Well, throughout June until he was called up for good on the 28th, Keston continued to mash. Shaw continued to get smashed. In the month of June Hiura went on a warpath through AAA with 8 HRs and 20 RBIs, chipping in 3 SBs. I guess the front office had seen enough. Seriously? It took until the end of June for the “professionals” to realize Shaw was broken and Hiura, their top prospect, was beyond ready with nothing to prove in the minors. So what’s the real impact of this?
So here we are, about to close the season. Less than 10 games remain to decide the division winners for the playoffs. The Winner of the NL Central moves on to NLDS, while the 2nd wildcard winner (likely the runner-up in the NL Central) will play the Nationals in game 162 to see who gets into the playoffs. Win or go home. In the total season stats, Hiura (in 75 games) provided his team with a WAR of 2.1, and Shaw, on the other hand, cost them -1.0; You can’t make this stuff up! Remember the intro paragraph? The Brewers are currently sitting 3 games back from the Cardinals. Huira provided 3.1 wins more value to them in half a season!
Is this irony? Who truly knows what irony is except Shakespeare and the British? Maybe this is poetic justice? Yelich, falls in battle, done for the season, unable to carry them to victory. And Hader, the white knight, has chinks in his armor coughing up HRs between Ks (because he’s racist, get it?). Or is it hubris (word of the day)?… for their apathy, their greed of money and service time, or even their pride. If by some measure the Brew Crew miss the playoffs or even make the wildcard game and lose, remember the WAR. If Keston played a full season he might have hit 35+ HRs 90+ RBIs 20 SBs; and most importantly, added another 3.1 games of difference to the win column. The 3 wins they are currently missing. Just like Julius Caesar who lost the WAR within, “It’s only hubris if I fail.” And this, a story fit for theater. A potential tragedy Shakespeare himself could only dream, “He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle.”