Shaw’s injury led to the promotion of highly touted second base prospect Keston Hiura, who hasn’t gotten off to a dazzling start but did post a two-hit game with his first career home run in a win over the Braves on Sunday. Hiura’s already just three homers short of Shaw, a key Brewers contributor from 2017-18 who has come out of the gates slowly this year. So far, Shaw’s slashing a paltry .163/.266/.281 with four HRs in 154 plate appearances. After combining for 7.1 fWAR over the previous two seasons, Shaw has recorded minus-0.8 in that category to rank second to last among position players in 2019. He’s also second from the bottom in wRC+ (46), which is a far cry from the 119 mark he registered from 2017-18.
While Shaw’s batting average on balls in play is an ultra-low .222, poor fortune’s certainly not the sole reason for his horrid numbers. Looking under the hood, alarming trends abound. Shaw’s running a career-worst strikeout rate (32.5 percent, up from 18.4 last season), a .119 ISO that comes up 120 points shy of the figure he recorded during the past two seasons, a skyrocketing swinging-strike rate (14.4 percent, compared to 8.2 in 2018) and a plummeting contact rate (67.7 percent, down from a personal-best 81.4 percent last season).
Although the 29-year-old Shaw was a vital cog in Milwaukee during his first two seasons in the organization, the Brew Crew could relegate him to the bench if he doesn’t rebound upon returning from the IL. Veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas opened the season at second base to accommodate Shaw, whom he has easily outproduced, and now the presence of Hiura has sent Moustakas back to the hot corner.