Hot Take: Keston Hiura Set To Arrive In Milwaukee: Projecting His Performance & More

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Robert Murray of The Athletic has broken the news that the Brewers would be recalling top prospect Keston Hiura.  It’s not a complete surprise that he’s earned the promotion, as he was hitting .333 with 11 HR, 26 RBI, 23 R and 4 SB over 129 AB at Triple-A.  Now the question is what exactly is the fallout?  What can we expect from Hiura?  Who loses playing time in Milwaukee?

Let’s take a look and try to answer all the questions:

What to expect from Keston Hiura
The big question is going to be in terms of his power, having hit just 13 HR between High-A and Double-A last season.  There’s a boost from playing in the Pacific Coast League and a 35.5% HR/FB, regardless of potential, is an unsustainable number.  That doesn’t mean that he can’t hit 18-20 HR, but don’t look at him as a 30+ HR force.

He also has benefited from a .405 BABIP while struggling with strikeouts (27.2%).  Swing and miss has been a part of his game, regardless of the level, over the past two seasons:

  • High-A (228 PA) – 11.1%
  • Double-A (307 PA) – 10.8%
  • Triple-A (147 PA) – 13.3%

That doesn’t give hope of a rebound (and it could get even worse), and as the luck regresses his average is going to fall.  Again that’s not to say that he’s going to hit .220, but could he be more of a .260-.270 hitter (at best) currently?  That’s a realistic expectation, especially if the power regresses (just look at Vladimir Guerrero’s initial struggles as an example.

You put this together and you get a .265/18 HR/10 SB type player.  Is that a valuable player in fantasy formats?  Absolutely, just don’t make the mistake of looking at this year’s numbers and expecting significantly more than that.

Who loses playing time

Update – The reports are that Travis Shaw will be hitting the IL with a wrist injury, which makes sense. Consider him a must stash, as we discuss here, as there is an opportunity for all parties to find playing time.

The obvious answer is Travis Shaw, who continues to struggle.  It’s been frustrating, and this adds to it, because the underlying numbers aren’t far off from last year’s (when he had significant success, obviously).  Just look at these notes:

  • He’s not seeing fewer fastballs (60.23%, compared to 59.10% last season)
  • He’s not struggling to hit the ball with authority (37.6% Hard%, down just slightly from his 39.8% last season)
  • He’s no more pull happy than he’s been before (40.0% Pull%)

So the only real difference is in the strikeout rate, with his SwStr% jumping from 8.2% (9.6% for his career) to 14.4%.  That said his worst Whiff% is 15.28% against offspeed pitches, so it makes little sense.  You also have to wonder why the mark has nearly doubled against hard pitches (7.31% to 14.44%). 

It’s hard to imagine the Brewers simply writing him off, relegating him to rot on the bench.  Let’s not forget that Shaw has played 124 games at first base over the course of his career, and Jesus Aguilar has had his issues as well (and it’s not like Eric Thames has torn the cover off the ball, hitting .241 with 5 HR over 83 AB).  Maybe Shaw loses playing time initially, but there is a potential path for him, Mike Moustakas (3B) and Hiura (2B) all finding time on the Milwaukee infield.

Just keep that in mind before simply cutting Shaw based on this news.  If you have the room, keep him stashed on your bench until we get a better feel for how this plays out (especially since Hiura isn’t a lock to hit the ground running).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com, MLB.com

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