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Taylor Green - Let Him Have April

by Tim Muma                                                                  2/23/2013
(Twitter: @brewersblend)                                               11:30am

With Taylor Green getting the start at 1st base in the Milwaukee Brewers' Cactus League opener, I say that's exactly what the plan should be until Hart gets back - at least versus right-handers. Give the Canadian a chance, eh, and he will be solid filling in for Hart in April.
Green gets the first crack at 1st base -
and he should be given the interim job

The casual fan is going to say he's awful and can't hit, quickly pointing to his .207/.266/.343/.609 slash line in two stints with the Major League club. Of course, they'll fail to remember (or care) he's had a grand total of 154 plate appearances (PA) - the definition of a small sample size. Keep in mind, an everyday player like Ryan Braun, for example, racks up over 150 PA in just 36 games - Green's 154 PA covers about four-and-half-months - whereas Braun's is about 5 weeks.

The truth is, Green has been a solid hitter throughout his minor league career when he was a consistent starter. In almost 700 games on the farm, Green posted a .370 OBP and an OPS of .822, averaging about 11 HR a season with 23 doubles per year. This was one of the guys the Cleveland Indians were looking at when the Brewers traded for C.C. Sabathia, and I know many Brewers fans didn't want him to be chosen.

His 2011 minor league campaign illustrates his potential, particularly as he nears the typical prime years for a position player. Most hitters peak in their age 27 season and Green is currently 26 years old - a great time to get some starts. In AAA in 2011, Green hit 22 HR with 36 doubles, 88 RBI and 74 runs scored in 120 contests.
You don't get to be the poster boy for the
schedule without doing some big things

However, it's rare for a player, especially a younger one, to succeed in limited duty and spot starts at the big league level.
 With the Brewers, Green has started only 30 games and he's never started in more than two consecutive games. I don't care who you are, it's incredibly hard to be successful doing that.

Green has a relatively short, solid stroke out of a low stance that will provide some pop, though he projects more as a doubles hitter than a slugger. His biggest issue with the Brewers has been swinging at pitches outside of the zone where some advanced stats confirm he's below average in that regard. However, that could easily be a product of sporadic playing time and pinch hitting duties, as hitters typically become more aggressive and chase pitches because of limited at-bats.

Realistically, his numbers throughout the minors show him to be plenty able to take walks and see more pitches per at-bat, but again, it comes with consistent playing time.

I still like Taylor Green quite a bit and believe he'll play well as the temporary everyday 1st baseman, most likely hitting 7th in an otherwise solid lineup. And if the Spring opener is any indication, he'll have Carlos Gomez hitting in front of him wreaking havoc on the bases and forcing pitchers to throw more fastballs to Green.

He'll be playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, but I doubt he'll be at 1st base much with Joey Votto and Justin Morneau also on the squad. Hopefully he can get some at-bats and be ready to roll out of the gate - and I wouldn't mind a quick ouster of his team.

If the rest of the lineup does its job,
Green and the club will thrive

There's no need to call Hunter Morris up then send him back down. I also don't want to see Alex Gonzalez or Bobby Crosby starting at 1st base unless there's a top 5 lefty on the mound.

Live and die with Green for 3-4 weeks; he'll hit .275 with a .330 OBP, a couple of HR, 5-6 doubles and average defense in the field. That would be plenty to help the Brewers off to a good start.


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