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Let’s Talk About the Brewers

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Miller Park // Wikimedia Commons

Miller Park // Wikimedia Commons

Miller Park // Wikimedia Commons

Cade Moore

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With the season having started March 29th in San Diego we have the information to make some educated predictions about the rest of the 2018 MLB season. However, considering there are still over 140 games to play in the regular season, it is still way too early to jump to any big conclusions about the rest of the year. That said, here are some observations and predictions for the 2018 Brewers baseball team.

After winning 86 games in 2017, it is not unreasonable to expect the Brewers to achieve a postseason berth for just the fifth time in their history, especially considering their vastly improved outfield. Yet, many projection systems and baseball experts seem to think the Brewers will perform worse than last year. Their argument for this is regression. Many of the Brewers key players had career-best years last season, including Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, and Manny Piña. When veteran players who were not previously well-known suddenly bud into a star, many people’s first thought is that it’s an anomaly and that players will regress back to the mean during the following season. This may be a reason to worry for many Brewers fans, but in the few games that have been played this season Milwaukee’s best players from last season, except starting pitchers, have performed up to the standard with what we began to expect last year. As was stated, this is certainly subject to change, but for the team’s and the fans’ sake, let’s hope it doesn’t.

As of April 9th, the Brewers lead the majors in errors committed. This is consistent with last season when the team committed 115 errors, good for second in the most errors, ahead of only Oakland who had 121. While errors were a significant problem last summer, they have been especially prevalent so far in this young season. Through ten games, the Brewers had committed 14 errors, which would put them on pace to commit about 227 errors. It is not realistic to expect that the Brewers will commit 227 errors over the course of the season, but if they want to be serious contenders now or in the near future, cutting down on the errors will need to be a priority. Milwaukee would have had at least two more wins to celebrate this season if it weren’t for errors and they can’t expect to be taken seriously if the defensive struggles continue.

The team’s big offseason splash of acquiring both Christian Yelich via trade and Lorenzo Cain via free agency on the same day has paid off so far. Both Yelich and Cain have gotten off to very good starts with their new team, Cain hitting .293 with 12 hits and Yelich batting .385 with ten hits. Yelich won’t continue to hit .385 but anyway you look at it both players have impressed so far. Particularly impressive was Yelich’s solo homer against the Cardinals while down a run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Braun followed that heroic act with one of his own, hitting a walk-off homer on the very next pitch. Certainly, Cain and Yelich will not be as great all season as they have been in the first handful of games, but look for them to emerge as two of the best players on the Brewers roster.

Through ten games, the Brewers were shut out three times including twice in a home series against the Cubs. This would be concerning for any team, but especially concerning for a team which was projected to have a monster offensive lineup and had similar offensive woes throughout the second half of last season. Even in games the Brewers won, they struggled to go ahead until their last at-bat, having four such wins in the first ten games. Some things that may have contributed to these poor offensive outings are injuries to important players like Christian Yelich and Stephen Vogt and inconsistencies in the lineup. Due to the incredible depth in the Brewers lineup, they are forced to change three to four spots in their lineup each game to keep everyone happy with their playing time. In the long run of the season, I wouldn’t be worried about the offense, players will emerge as everyday players, and other will regress backward, they’ll have hot streaks and cold streaks just as any team will.

The Brewers have one of the more optimistic outlooks of all the teams in baseball, and under the direction of young manager Craig Counsell and young GM David Stearns, the sky is the limit for this promising young team. So, if this year turns out to not be what we were hoping for, take solace in the fact that the team is young and their talent isn’t going anywhere for quite awhile if all goes according to plan. But it wouldn’t be crazy to think they’ll continue to exceed expectations and fight against the odds, because after all, who doesn’t love an underdog?

 

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