Questions at Third Base

As late as last October, the future at third base for the Brewers seemed pretty clear.  After placing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting following a 2009 campaign in which he hit .301, Casey McGehee followed up with a .285 batting average in his first full season with the Brewers.  2010 saw McGehee hit a career-high 23 home runs, with a team-high 104 runs batted in.  McGehee’s up-and-coming competition at third base, Taylor Green, spent the year in AA still hampered by a wrist injury and hit only .260. Drafted in 2005, Green was noted for his plate discipline and contact and appeared more likely to make the club in coming years as a utility player rather than a starting third baseman.

Things have changed considerably since last October.  McGehee opened 2011 with a slump of epic proportions, hitting only .223 with 5 home runs through the first half of the season.  Green, meanwhile, knocked the cover off the ball at AAA Nashville, batting .336 with a good bit of pop (22 home runs).  Though McGehee has turned it on a bit in the second half (.265 average, 7 home runs), his recent success hasn’t silenced McGee’s critics — or Green’s proponents.

Those fans finally got their wish on August 31.  After his call-up, Green logged his first major-league hit in his first at-bat, delivering a Jake Westbrook changeup into right field for a pinch-hit single.  In limited appearances, he’s gone 7 for 16 with an RBI.  If Green can continue his hot start, he has an excellent chance of making the postseason roster and might even challenge Casey McGehee next year at third base in spring training, especially since Green is better with the glove.  Even if that scenario doesn’t materialize, Green will likely make the team as a left-handed utility player with a decent spring training.

Along with the likely departures of Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt, Green’s ascension could mean the Brewers’ infield has a whole new look in 2012.

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