Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’17 — #18 Eric Sogard

Our Benjamin Button countdown is waving goodbye to adulthood after today as we are into the teens.

Coming off of the longest stretch of consecutive days in this year’s edition (29–21 for a nine-day run), “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” had a two-day reprieve as they have not reissued #20 just yet and #19 will never be worn by a Brewers player again.

But today is not 20 or 19 days away from Opening Day on April 3rd at Miller Park. No, today is 18 days away so let’s meet another new Brewer employee…

Eric Sogard.

Face of MLB runner-up in 2014, Eric Sidney Sogard has long been the favorite (the glasses?) of Joe Six-Pack who believes that he too could play professional baseball because “look at the nerd who does it.”

The Brewers had their own dalliance with “Nerd Power” in 2014 courtesy of self-professed “big time nerd” Jonathan Lucroy. (He even went so far as to put up finger glasses at times, including after reaching base in response to the team’s urging from the dugout.) Sogard doesn’t need to craft goggles with his digits because he wears actual spectacles. But you know what else these players have in common?

They can play baseball a little bit.

Look, the nerd things is fine and all but it distracts from the fact that the 30-year-old Sogard had been a key player in the big leagues for a three-year stretch between 2013 and 2015 with the Oakland Athletics, and likely would have been again in 2016 if not for injury. His career numbers aren’t eye-popping (.239/.295/.313 slash with 8 HR) and he’s done most of his defensive work at second base, but Sogard is a versatile defender who has solid metrics at second, third, and shortstop. He can absolutely be counted on in a pinch and offers a manager plenty of flexibility.

Sogard didn’t offer the Athletics anything in 2016, unfortunately, as a neck injury saw him open the season on the DL and he then injured his left knee during a mid-April rehab assignment. Sogard would undergo a patellar tendon debridement (an operation which removes tissue) on the knee with the added step of removing some bone spurs. It was originally thought that Sogard might be out 4–6 weeks following the April 20th surgery, but he still wasn’t ready to go once eligible following his being transferred to the 60-day DL on May 11th.

Following the end of the season, the Athletics outrighted Sogard to Triple-A Nashville. As a veteran with enough service time, Sogard elected instead to become a free agent, exercising that right on October 8th. He would sign a minor-league deal (which included an invitation to MLB camp for Spring Training) with the Brewers two months and a week later.

Entering a new situation with a new team can be difficult for even the most veteran of players, but Sogard has handled things fairly well to this point. Most importantly, he’s healthy and actually able to play baseball. He’s appeared in 11 games as of this posting. He’s only recorded five hits, but we must keep in mind two key things. First, small sample size. 25 at-bats is a nothing commute. Second, these are the first at-bats he’s taken in a competitive environment in almost a full year. Rust much? Also take into account that he’s walked seven times already and stolen three bases to boot, proving that his knee issues are behind him.

The bottom line for Sogard is that the Brewers are covered around the infield right now. Therefore, unless Scooter Gennett fails to make the 25-man in his new utility role, Sogard is going to begin the season with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox, likely as their starting second baseman. It’s a good environment to hit, one which should help Sogard as he continues getting back to playing baseball every day.

But having a steady guy available to call on if you need him at any of three positions is invaluable. When healthy, Sogard offers that even at the very least.

Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricSogard

Looking to catch up on this season’s BBtJN? Just click on a name below:

#59 Carlos Torres
#57 Chase Anderson
#56 Ryan Webb
#54 Michael Blazek
#53 Jhan Mariñez
#52 Jimmy Nelson
#51 Damien Magnifico
#50 Jacob Barnes
#47 Jett Bandy
#46 Corey Knebel
#45 Tyler Cravy
#41 Junior Guerra
#38 Wily Peralta
#37 Neftalí Feliz
#35 Brent Suter
#33 Tommy Milone
#29 Yadiel Rivera
#28 Jorge Lopez
#27 Zach Davies
#26 Taylor Jungmann
#25 Michael Reed
#24 Jesús Aguilar
#23 Keon Broxton
#22 Matt Garza
#21 Travis Shaw