Counsell envisions Villar and shortstop Orlando Arcia combining together to give Milwaukee an excellent defense up the middle, and offense when Arcia’s bat comes around to the Major League standard.
“I think if we can get Villar and Arcia every day in the middle, I think we can be solid and steady,” Counsell said.
The Brewers made a trade earlier this week with the Boston Red Sox, and acquired Travis Shaw in the deal to have him play mostly third base. Eric Thames was signed by the club earlier this off-season to be the team’s starting first baseman.
Hernan Perez, who started 60 games for the Brewers at third base in 2016, will come off the bench and fill in at whatever position Counsell needs him in. Perez appeared in games at third, shortstop, second base, first base, left field, center field, and right field last season.
“Perez is going to be somebody that’s important,” Counsell said, “and I think now as part of the depth and the protection and getting match-up, he’s going to be an important part of this on the corners for sure.”
Scooter Gennett started 121 games for Milwaukee at second, but he will start 2017 off in a bench role if he is not traded by the time spring training rolls around. There is a possibility Villar can play shortstop if Arcia struggles on offense.
The 25-year-old Villar appeared in games at shortstop, third base, and second base last season. He held his own at shortstop and second base, but struggled in a major way at third base, ruling him out from playing there a lot in 2017.
Villar emerged as one of baseball’s rising stars with a breakout season in 2016. He batted .285/.369/.457 with 19 homers, 63 RBIs, and 62 stolen bases. Villar’s 62 swiped bags lead all of Major League Baseball.
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