The Aoki-less Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers’ Norichika Aoki (7) is out at the bag as Colorado Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco takes the throw during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 3, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Now that the entire Milwaukee Brewers universe is focused on the future at first, it is easy to forget that the Crew will be without tested right fielder Norichika Aoki next year.

I go to the University of Missouri, so I know a lot of Kansas City fans.  Needless to say I was flooded with messages from excited Royals fans when Aoki was dealt to the Royals for Will Smith two weeks ago.

I can understand their enthusiasm- I loved Aoki. I was one of the first on the Aoki bandwagon when the Brewers signed him in 2012 and I have been pleased with his production ever since.

With that said, Aoki is gone now and without him the Brewers will likely rely on Khris Davis to be an everyday starter in the outfield.

For this to work, the Brewers will  have to move Braun from left to right field and start Davis at left.  Several reports indicate that the Brewers plan on doing this in 2014.

The most obvious problem with this alignment is the fact that Davis is a relatively untested second year player who only got playing time last year because he had a great spring training that took everyone by surprise.  His performance in Maryvale got him on the opening day roster, but Davis only ended up playing 56 regular season games.

That said, in the games he did play in last year Davis batted .279 and hit 11 home runs.  Davis’ power hitting ability should make up for the dip in batting average. In fact, Davis might actually be an upgrade over Aoki in the long run if he can replicate his numbers from last year over the entire season.

Another concern may be the fact that Ryan Braun has never played right in his MLB career.  In all honesty, this shouldn’t be that big of a problem because right field is much easier to play than left and Braun has switched positions before (from shortstop to third at the beginning of his career, and from third to left in 2008).  In fact, Brewers fans should actually be more concerned with Davis’ fielding abilities than Braun’s transition.

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When it comes down to it, I think that moving Braun over and putting Davis in left is the right move and I cannot even begin to describe my excitement about Davis moving forward.

Ever since I saw Davis play during Spring Training last year I’ve wanted the Brewers to get him more involved, and he now has the chance to turn the Brewers outfield into a ‘tremendous trio’ (you heard it here first) with Davis, Braun, and Carlos Gomez.  Home runs should go up with Davis in the day-to-day lineup and the batting average should stay about the same.  This is the best-case scenario for the Brewers, they won’t have to give up any prospects in a trade or give up any cash signing a big time free agent.

As long as Davis delivers, the outfield should be much stronger next year than it was in 2013.

Read more Brewers rumors, news and opinion on our Milwaukee Brewers page

  • Cory

    I disagree with your last statement about “This is the best-case scenario for the Brewers, they won’t have to give up any prospects in a trade or give up any cash signing a big time free agent.” – They are still without a first-baseman so this is NOT the best-case scenario. I would argue had we traded Aoki for Mitch Mooreland, then THAT would be the best scenario because we get a guy who will bat better than whoever we put at first last year and also be able to move Braun to RF and start Davis. That would allow us to keep about the same starting lineup BA (Mooreland would be a small increase from 1B last year, while Davis would be a little decrease from Aoki) and also increase in HR’s and run production. I am worried about the defense though…Gomez can’t cover everything.

    • Ian Joyce

      That was line was referencing the outfield situation but I get where you are coming from. You don’t trust Fransisco/Halton at first next year?

  • devin

    since when is right field easier to play then left

    • Ian Joyce

      Ball is hit to left field more often and you don’t need the same arm strength at right that you do at left

      • Michael

        Eh I am not so sure I agree with the Ianstrument on this one. The right fielder, on occasion, has to gun people at third. The left fielder never has to throw the ball to first. Ergo, arm strength is more important in right and that is the more demanding position.

  • Ryan Kohn

    Wow “tremendous trio” that is a good line how did you think of it Mr. Joyce?

    • Ian Joyce

      Grit, determination and sweat

  • Michael

    WOW this article was well written and compelling. I learned so much! Best of luck to Aoki in KC

  • Smiley

    shutup ian

  • Robert

    Norichika Aoki was a great find for the Brewers and was one of the best investments they’ve had in the past few years. He will continue paying the Brewers high yield dividends in the form of Will Smith who is a phenomenal LHP who can no doubt-ably pitch. I watched him dominate when coming in a relief appearance on Sept 2nd going 4.1 innings striking out 8 allowing only 1 base runner. They got one heck of a major league pitcher for years to come. Last years line – 33.1 innings 43 K 3.24 ERA and 0.93 WHIP

  • Bernie from Rockville

    You and Ryan need to think about getting real writing jobs…leave the sports writing to the idiots!