The Brewers are under .500 and in fourth place in the NL Central, but shortstop Jonathan Villar has been a surprising bright spot for the team.
Acquired from Houston in the offseason for minor league pitcher Cy Sneed, Villar has hit .305 with a major league leading 19 stolen bases.
Once thought of as a utility man placeholder for top prospect Orlando Arcia, Villar is receiving serious consideration for an All-Star nod this year. "I'm playing hard for that," he said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I like to try. My family is happy if I go to the All-Star Game. That would be good."
Villar, 25, has gained the trust of his manager, Craig Counsell, and has taken a firm grasp on lead-off duties for the club.
"The quality of the at-bats has continued. That's the big thing," Counsell said. "The at-bats haven't deviated — the ball-strike recognition, laying off tough pitches — that, to me, is what has been really impressive and has continued day in and day out."
Villar has drawn comparisons to former Brewer Carlos Gomez for his fast-paced, almost reckless style of play. His manager and team are embracing the energy he's bringing to the ballclub, along with the impressive results.
Here's more news surrounding the NL Central:
- The Pirates faced six left-handed opposing pitchers in an eight game stretch. It's allowed manager Clint Hurdle to experiment some with his lineup, including moving second baseman Josh Harrison to the lead-off spot.
- A key part of the rebuilding plan for Cincinnati will take place with next week's amateur draft. The Reds have the No. 2 overall pick, along with the top lottery round pick at No. 35 overall. This will give them almost $14 million to work with when signing their draftees, the largest bonus pool in Major League Baseball.
- The Cardinals already have 10 pinch-hit home runs this season, tying the franchise mark for most in a season. There are 11 major league teams that have yet to hit one pinch-hit home run this year. With over 100 games remaining, St. Louis has plenty of time to extend their club record.