There was nothing particularly unique about Luis Castillo’s winning hit Friday night in a 5-4 victory over the Brewers: (...) He bolted down the first-base line, his legs churning, his arms pumping, and beat J. J. Hardy’s throw by a step, allowing Carlos Delgado to score the winning run.
Shpigel offers this event as evidence of Castillo's resurgence since re-dedicating himself through intensive off-season workouts, and I'm not here to disagree that the Mets' second baseman of the present (and foreseeable future) certainly seems to be a fitter, happier version than we've grown used to.
But after watching the Mets-Brewers series finale at Citi Field -- a contest lost by the Mets, unfortunately -- it was hard to ignore the ways in which Milwaukee's shortstop of the present (and foreseeable future) must avoid struggling in the field in order to stave off concerns about his struggles at the plate in the early going.
To review Hardy's at bats in Sunday's game:
- 1st inning, bases loaded, one out. Hardy strikes out swinging.
- 3rd inning, bases empty, two outs. Hardy grounds out to 3rd on second pitch of AB.
- 6th inning, bases empty, no outs. Hardy fouls out on second pitch of AB.
- 8th inning, bases empty, one out. Hardy takes four pitches and pops out to 1b.
I know, I know, only four at bats.
But as of now, Hardy ranks 194th out of 197 qualified MLB hitters in batting average (8-for-54; .148) and 184th in OPS, which is buoyed by virtue of his three base hits which have cleared the fence.
The good news is, Hardy has been mostly reliable with the glove so far, which has helped Milwaukee achieve the 6th best UZR at the shortstop position thus far.
Hardy, along with Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Yovani Gollardo, exemplifies the team's recent successful track record of drafting and development to provide the big league club with major league talent. Unfortunately for Hardy, the Brew Crew seem to have a nearly-ready SS replacement in Alcides Escobar, who is currently plying his trade in the Pacific Coast League and whose acumen with the glove could ostensibly inspire a call-up if he starts to hit, and the Brewers find a willing trade partner for their 26 year-old shortstop.
Hardy's career splits suggest that things will only improve at the plate, but if they don't, I wouldn't be surprised if Escobar is running the show by the trading deadline.