Jonathan Villar broke out in 2016, as he not only led the major leagues in stolen bases with 62 (and caught stealing, with 18), but also posted a career best .826 OPS with 19 home runs while playing solid defense across the infield at shortstop, third base and second base. The Brewers acquired Travis Shaw over the offseason, and his presence combined with the callup of top prospect shortstop Orlando Arcia will lock Villar into the starting second baseman role for 2017. The Brewers ran wild in 2016, and there's little reason to believe Craig Counsell's philosophy will change drastically in one year, so expect another big stolen-base total from Villar. The biggest questions, however, pertain to the sustainability of his power production, and the significant improvement in his walk rate, which jumped to a career-best 11.6 percent last season. Most likely, he'll give some home runs back in 2017 after his HR/FB rate nearly doubled from 10.0 percent in 2015 to 19.6 percent last season.
Villar went 2-for-5 with a run scored and four RBI in Tuesday's 9-1 rout of the Reds. The 25-year-old switch hitter is shaking off his slow start to 2017, hitting .300 (9-for-30) over his last seven games with six runs scored and six RBI. That still leaves Villar with a .189/.255/.311 slash line on the season, but a few more multi-hit performances should get those numbers back to respectability.
Villar went 2-for-4 with two runs in Thursday's victory over the Cardinals. Villar has struggled to make contact this season, posting a woeful 5:28 BB:K while hitting just .159 through 17 games. However, he did notch three hits over his last two games -- nearly a quarter of the 11 hits he has piled up this season -- so he may be showing early signs of getting back on track. Villar has clearly struggled with the bat this year, but the .826 OPS he posted in 2016 likely earned him plenty of chances to get on track.
Villar is out of the lineup Sunday against the Reds. Villar has been the only second baseman the Brewers have used over the season's first 12 games, but on Sunday he'll give way to Nick Franklin, who will man the keystone and bat leadoff. If it's just a regular day off for Villar, the timing seems right, as he's just 1-for-10 at the plate with six strikeouts over his last three games.
Villar went 2-for-4 with a solo homer -- his third on the year -- in Wednesday's 2-0 win over the Blue Jays. Well, now he has two more homers than steals, and he's still hitting just .179, but Villar has avoided striking out in two straight games. There's plenty of reason to believe in him after last year, so don't panic; Villar still offers a power-speed combo that's hard to find, not to mention multi-position eligibility in many leagues.
Villar went 2-for-5 with a solo homer and a steal in an 11-6 loss against the Cubs on Saturday. He opened the bottom of the first with his second homer already and later finally swiped his first bag, drawing a sigh of relief from owners who watched Villar -- a 62-steal man last season -- go 0-for-1 on the bases in the first five games of 2017. The speedy infielder's also struck out a dozen times in his first 26 at-bats; already prone to whiffing, he's doing so at a significantly elevated rate, which has unsurprisingly impacted his batting average in the early going.
|vs ST. LOUIS||6/16||.375||0||1||0||2||0|
|vs FOLTYNEWICZ (CAREER)||1/2||.500||0||0||0||0||1|