Jonathan Villar Could Breakout for Brewers in 2016

The Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros made a deal in November that sent shortstop Jonathan Villar to the Brewers in-exchange for minor league prospect Cy Sneed. Villar was moved from the Astros due to their log jam at the infield position, and now in Milwaukee he has a great chance to finally prove himself.

Villar was always in Carlos Correa‘s shadow one way or another. The 24-year-old Villar who turns 25 in May, is a career .236/.300/.353 with 10 home runs, 46 runs batted in, and 42 stolen bases at the Major League level in 658 career plate appearances.

The speedy shortstop is projected to be the Brewers Opening Day starter at shortstop after the Brewers traded Jean Segura to the Diamondbacks not too long ago. Dan Szymborski’s annual ZiPS projections have Villar slashing .240/.303/.374 with 10 long bombs and 46 runs batted in to go with 33 stolen bases which would lead all Brewers players at the Major League level by 15.

To me, this is an encouraging season for a guy who has struggled to get his career off on the right foot so far. His .303 on-base percentage with the 33 stolen bases tells us that Villar could have the potential to lead at least the National League in steals.

If we set Villar’s career numbers to a 162 game average, it looks like this: .236/.300/.353 8 home runs, 38 runs batted in, and 34 stolen bases. Villar batted .284/.339/.414 in just 128 plate appearances for the Astros in 2015.

This is Villar’s best bet yet, and if he fizzles out in Milwaukee, it could be hard for him to ever work his way back to the Major League level. Speedy guys have a better chance to stay around, but 2016 should be a year of improving his tools.

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