By MARK SIMON
Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton is in the midst of an all-time defensive stretch.
Broxton has saved 11 runs defensively in nine games over 10 days since his recall from Triple-A. He’s tied for second in Defensive Runs Saved by a center fielder with none other than his teammate Lorenzo Cain, whose groin injury paved the way for Broxton’s recall.
How does one accumulate 11 Defensive Runs Saved that quickly? Two home run robberies in a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins account for a nice chunk of that. Broxton stole one from Joe Mauer in the seventh inning on Monday, then took one from Brian Dozier to maintain a two-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday.
Broxton now has five home run robberies in the last three seasons. Only Justin Upton has more. Broxton does get bonus points for timeliness though. Two of his other home run robberies came in the ninth inning, one taking away a tying home run from Anthony Rizzo in 2016, the other robbing a go-ahead home run from Randal Grichuk in 2017.
Broxton has also made a series of other nice catches this season. Three of his best came in a series against the Reds, a sprinting catch against Jose Peraza in the right center field gap to take away what would have been a double or triple, a catch in a similar spot but with an athletic dive to rob Scooter Gennett of extra bases the next day and a snag while crashing into a fence against Scott Schebler.
There have also been a couple of instances in which Broxton was well positioned (either by his choice or the coaching staff) to snare balls hit to spots in which outs don’t often occur. However, these don’t make up a large part of his DRS total. And in these nine games, there have been very few balls hit that could have been caught by the center fielder that he didn’t catch.
Lastly, Broxton gets one run saved for deterring baserunners. He threw one out at second base trying to advance on a single and has allowed only two advancements on eight hits fielded.
Broxton finished last season with -7 DRS. He seems to have fixed whatever fielding issues he has. Now he needs to work on his hitting to stay in the majors. Through nine games he’s batting .179.