Pittsburgh Pirates NL Central Rivals: Milwaukee Brewers
Signing Thames wasn’t the only move that the Brewers made to bolster their infield. During the Winter Meetings, they dealt reliever Tyler Thornburg for three players. While the package includes prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, the most impactful player for 2017 will be Third Baseman, Travis Shaw. The 26-year-old made his debut in 2015 and will be entering his 2nd full season this year. Shaw had an impressive debut, slashing .270/.327/.487 with 13 Home Runs in 65 games in 2015. Over his first full season last year though he could not follow it up, slashing .242/.306/.421 with 16 Home Runs in 145 games.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, they’re more likely to get the 2016 version of Travis Shaw. This is because the biggest contributor to his drop-off was his hitting for less power (.217 to .179 ISO). This drop-off, given his young age, was likely due to his seeing a decrease in his HR/FB rate (17.8% to 10.3%) while his overall Fly Ball percentage didn’t change significantly (42.7% to 44.6%). This combined with a modest increase in his Hard% (29.2% to 33.3%) indicates that he was lucky in 2015 and that 2016 was a regression to what can be expected more typically for Shaw. Working in his and the Brewers’ favor though is that he is still only 26 and should yet have room to grow.