The Milwaukee Brewers scored 725 runs last season. They ranked 10th in runs scored among the 30 major league clubs.
The Brewers finished the 2022 season with a record of 86-76, seven games behind the National League Central division winning St. Louis Cardinals.
The Brewers hit 219 home runs, third best in Major League Baseball, behind only the New York Yankees (254) and Atlanta Braves (243).
While the offense was solid in many areas, they still weren’t able to catch the Cardinals.
To their credit, Milwaukee has made efforts to improve their run production and deepen their roster.
Improving a team need, the Brewers added catcher William Contreras in a trade with the Atlanta Braves. Outfielder Jesse Winker and infielder Abraham Toro were obtained in trade from the Seattle Mariners.
As estimated by RosterResource.com, the Brewers 2023 payroll now sits at $119M, down from $137M this past season.
It would seem payroll room remains to continue to improve the team’s roster.
One player capable of offering improved offense for the Brewers could be left-handed hitting first baseman Rowdy Tellez.
Tellez is on an uphill offensive trajectory, and he could be the nucleus for improved run scoring.
Tellez, 27, will be hitting in his prime baseball years.
To this scout, Tellez is an explosive hitter. Streaky, but explosive.
MLB Eliminates The Infield Shift:
Tellez, prominently a pull hitter, could be among one of the biggest beneficiaries of a new rule in Major League Baseball.
Beginning next season, MLB will ban the infield shift that has become commonplace. For much of the last decade, the shift has been part of MLB team defense.
In particular, left-handed hitters have been negatively impacted by shifts that have added the shortstop to the left of second base. In effect, it meant the shortstop, the second baseman, and the first baseman were placed between first base and second base. It has been a successful method of taking away ground balls that would offer potential base hits through the right side of the infield.
In most shifts, the natural second baseman would be stationed well beyond the infield grass, clogging a hole in the infield that had normally been available to left-handed hitters. It also took away short fly balls between the infield and the right fielder.
Generally speaking, the third baseman moved to the natural shortstop position, leaving the area at third base unprotected.
Few left-handed hitters made the necessary adjustments to take advantage of the vacant third base real estate.
Teams clearly didn’t shift as much against right-handed hitters. It was left-handed hitters that were negatively impacted by infield shifts.
Next season, all four infielders will be required to be on either side of second base when the pitch is delivered. All four infielders must have their feet positioned on the infield cutout in front of the outfield grass.
The net result of the elimination of shifts should improve the amount of offense produced in MLB games.
About Rowdy Tellez:
Rowdy Tellez is a big, strong first baseman with a 6-4, 255 pound, wide-bodied frame. He has a very quick and powerful bat.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Tellez in the 30th round of the 2013 draft, out of Elk Grove High School in California.
In 2018, at the age of 23, Tellez made his big league debut for the Blue Jays. He appeared in 23 games, receiving 73 plate appearances.
In parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, Tellez hit 37 homers, as he drove in 99 runs.
In July 2021, the Blue Jays traded Tellez to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Bowden Francis and Trevor Richards.
In parts of two seasons with the Brewers, Tellez has hit 42 home runs. He has driven in 117.
Last year, Tellez hit 35 home runs, and drove in 89 runs in 599 plate appearances. Both were career highs. His bat came to life.
Now, more than ever, the Brewers need any additional offense Tellez can provide. They need his home run bat to continue to explode.
As they enter a new season, Rowdy Tellez may be a welcoming beneficiary of the new MLB shift rules. He is a perfect example of a left-handed hitter capable of hitting balls through the hole in the right side of the infield.
Last year, Tellez hit into 20 double plays. That ranked as the fourth highest in the National League. The elimination of the shift should help reduce that number.
This scout’s first evaluations of Tellez occurred in the 2015 Arizona Fall League.
At the time, the 20-year-old Tellez showed an aggressive approach at the plate, with good knowledge of the strike zone. He had an advanced hit tool, and the power in his large frame was obvious. He hit four Fall League home runs, and drove in 17 runs. He hit .293 that fall, and was one of the more consequential hitters in the league.
After watching Tellez, this scout placed a Grade 55 on his overall ability. That equates to an above major league average player. His offense was ahead of his defense at the time. His power potential was his best, and most obvious tool.
Tellez made his big league debut with Toronto in 2018, when he played in 23 games.
He hit 21 homers in 2019 for the Blue Jays, and began to show he could hit the ball out of major league parks. That year, he hit only .227, striking out 116 times in 409 plate appearances.
Like many big league hitters, breaking balls gave Tellez trouble early in his career. He has since improved his selectivity, pitch recognition, and patience.
Last year for Milwaukee, Tellez hit .219/.306/.461/.767 with 23 doubles and those 35 home runs in 599 plate appearances.
Going forward, with the elimination of the shift, the Brewers can most likely look for an improved batting average from a left-handed hitter like Tellez.
Tellez struck out 121 times, which is fairly low for a power hitter. He walked an impressive 62 times. His walks are a testament to his good pitch recognition and patience.
Defensively, Tellez is solid. His range and first-step quickness are areas he worked on to improve. Last season, he made only two errors at first base in 1,029 chances. He is a competent and reliable first baseman.
Tellez has no speed to speak of. He won’t be a threat to steal bases. In fact, in 428 games, covering parts of five big league seasons, Tellez has stolen only three bases in his six attempts.
To improve in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers have to support their above average pitching with more situational offense. Simply put, they have to cash in more often with runners in scoring position.
While their offense was credible last season, they still need to improve to catch the division leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Likely hitting third in the Brewers lineup, behind left fielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Willy Adames, hefty and strong first baseman Rowdy Tellez provides a dangerous presence as a left-handed hitter.
At the mid-point of the offseason, the Brewers could still use another potent bat to take some of the power pressure off Tellez.
Regardless of any further offensive additions, the team can still expect to see an uptick in power from Tellez, who is now in the prime of his career.
Tellez is now showing the type of dangerous bat that was projected for him as a young prospect.
The elimination of the shift in Major League Baseball should really help a left-handed slugger like Rowdy Tellez. That new rule change matters.