MILWAUKEE - Being defensive isn't necessarily a trait that endears someone to others. However, the Milwaukee Brewers are hoping that they'll be pleasing everyone with their defensiveness.
"We weren’t a good enough defensive team last year," said David Stearns, Brewers president of baseball operations.
In the 60 games of the 2020 season, the Brewers committed 35 errors, leading Stearns to address the situation going into the 2021 season.
"The best opportunities for us to improve our team largely revolves around defensive-oriented players," said Stearns.
"We value defensive players," said Craig Counsell, Brewers manager. "They add wins to your team."
Count starter Brandon Woodruff as one of those pitchers who’s expecting to enjoy the benefits from the guys behind him.
"Obviously, that is very, very huge," said Woodruff. "That’s our game, defense and we’re really talented in the field. That’s what we do."
"I’m a guy who loves to play second base," said Wong. "I enjoy playing defense. At the end of the day, that’s all I really want to do, keep guys off the bases, keep these pitchers in as long as possible and allow us to do some damage and win games."
Expecting to play all over the outfield, Bradley is looking forward to what the unit as a whole will be able to do in 2021.
"There’s a lot of defensive stalwarts out there," said Bradley. "You’ve got guys who have won Gold Gloves all over the place, guys who have the potential to win Gold Gloves and I think that can only benefit not only our team, but the pitchers, and we can kind of feed off of that."
Jackie Bradley Jr.
While the offense tends to get the accolades, the subtlety of the defense is where the Brewers will be looking to earn their wins.
"The tricky thing about defense is that it’s not always as in your face as a two-run homer to tell you that it helped you," said Counsell. "We’re going to try to be really good at preventing runs this year. It needs to be a strength of ours this year for us to be successful."
By doing that, Wong is expecting the team to reap the benefits in other aspects of the game.
"It definitely takes pressure off the offense just because when you can hold teams to low numbers during the games, usually it keeps the confidence in the clubhouse, keeps the confidence in guys knowing that one swing can give us the lead or tie the game," said Wong. "We’re never out of it. That’s the beautiful thing about defense."
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Stearns is definitely liking what he sees happening this season.
"Defense matters, and run prevention matters and it’s all part of the same equation of trying to score one more run than the other guy, and however we get there, and however we can get there most often is what we’re concerned with," said Stearns.
The Brewers also feel they have improved defensively at third base with the return of Travis Shaw.
Opening Day is April 1 at American Family Field against the Twins.