So close, yet so far away. That’s the best way to sum up the season the Milwaukee Brewers had. They took advantage of slow starts of the rest of the National League Central and had ahold of first place until July 25. After that, the Brewers slowly fell to finish the season 6.0 games back of the division-winning Chicago Cubs.
Given the lack of offensive production by the Brewers, it’s not surprising they slowly fell in the standings after the Cubs finally started playing well. Milwaukee did a great job working the count and drawing walks, but getting deep in the count also led to a lot of strike outs–more strike outs than anybody in Major League Baseball. A patient approach at the plate is often heralded as a good approach, but the Brewers hit just .249 as a team. In all honesty, the Brewers should have been swinging the bat in the first three pitches of an at bat, because they hit .311 in such cases.
Pitching, though still average, was considerably better for the Brewers, as the staff tossed a collective ERA of 4.00. Starting pitchers Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson all played to winning records. Davies led the staff with 17 wins, while Anderson and Nelson followed with 12 wins apiece. However, Anderson led the group with a 2.74 ERA in 25 starts.
Even after average hitting and pitching, the Brewers were not good defensively. They posted the worst fielding percentage in the NL at .981 and committed the most errors at 115.
This should vastly improve with the moves the Brewers made over the last couple of weeks. The additions of outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will immensely improve play in the outfield. Yelich committed just one error on 372 chances in 2017 for a .997 fielding percentage. He also hit .282 and drove in 81 runs. Cain wasn’t quite as sharp as Yelich, though still very good. He committed just seven errors on 443 chances. He hit .300 and stole 26 bases last season.
It’s interesting that both Yelich and Cain have been center fielders the entirety of their careers, but the Brewers’ current depth chart lists Cain in center field with Yelich in right. Yelich and Cain are sure to improve the Brewers and could put them where they need to be to contend with the Cubs in the division.
Photo by Brigham Berthold