If teamwork had a year, it would be 2020. You can see this in the team spirit of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the role everyone has had to take to make that happen. The social distancing and wearing of masks help stop the spread of the virus, and although not glamorous, they are very important to team success. ASU Sun Devil Eric Sogard and his season with the Milwaukee Brewers is also not glamorous but was very important to the team’s success.
Sogard was signed in December 2019 by the Brewers, who cut him just a year prior, to a 4.5 million dollar deal after having a great year split between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. In 2019, he hit 10 home runs in 73 games with the team up north and finished with an overall line of .290/.353/.457 with a fWAR of 2.6, the highest of his career.
Overall, 2020 stats are not really that pretty, .209/.281/.560 with a fWAR of -0.3, but the stats that are most important for his role really shine. The versatile infielder was an arguably big difference in if the team won or lost. The 24-26 team saw Sogard hit .273/.379/.400 in victories and was almost nonexistent in losses with a .150/.177/.167 line. Whenever asked to enter the game late, the veteran did not fail to be clutch with a .353/.476/.471 line. The former Devil played nine games when he played multiple positions and ten games where he came in as a pinch hitter. Some consider pinch-hitting to be a pure art, while others believe it comes down to the skill of the player regardless. Either way, in 10 attempts, he had a final line of .333/.400/.733.
Many of the bare bone stats did not change between this year and last; the strikeout and walk percentages are almost identical, he swung at the rate as last year and actually connected with the ball a little more, but he mostly stayed the same. Digging a little deeper, though, and there are some short-season eyebrow-raising changes. The ground ball rate spiked up again and even more so that the flyball rate dropped 10%, and Sogard was hitting to the opposite field seven percent more than the year prior. His batting average on balls in play did decrease to below his career average and way below last year's career-best .316. The only other concerning stats is that his speed score dropped almost four points to 1.2, sheesh.
Where to expect Sogard next year is somewhat up in the air. The Brewers may decide to pick up his option and hope the daily stats improve and that his late-game heroics continue but, many MLB teams have constantly been reminding fans and the Commissioner that they lost an exceeding amount of money this past year and is tied for the fifth-largest contract on the low budget Brew Crew may lead to unfortunate endings. Sogard has already proven when called on from AAA or the bench; he can be an effective player.
Sogard played at ASU from 2005 to 2007. In that time, he earned All-American honors in 2006 and 2007, two-time First Team All-Pac-10, and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007 and hit .400 with 11 home runs and 62 RBI. Sogard was initially drafted by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2007 draft.