The Milwaukee Brewers come in to 2018 as a legitimate threat to the Cubs if their pitching pans out. People who don’t know baseball don’t know that this lineup is stacked. Adding Yelich and Cain gives them 3-4 possible all stars in their lineup alongside Shaw and Braun. They won 86 last year and were in it until the very end despite nobody giving them a chance. They having young youth, speed, and power. Three things every team would love to have. They snuck up on teams in 2017 but that won’t happen this year and they’re going to be very fun to watch all season.
Christian Yelich, OF
Lorenzo Cain, OF
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP
Wily Peralta, RHP
Neil Walker, 2B
Anthony Swarzak, RHP
Why they can win: They will be a force to be reckoned with in not only the NL Central but all of the NL. They got on base at an above average clip last year and then added Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to their lineup. The Starting Pitching is a little bit of a scare but Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin (in SD) put together a ton of good starts last year and if they have a nice 1-2-3 they can be very successful. They also have Brent Suter who had a great season to build off of. They have enough power to get them through with Shaw, Braun and Eric Thames. On paper, they look better than the Cardinals.
Why they can lose: The BrewCrew can hit with the best of them. But what happens if Travis Shaw doesn’t stay consistent, Ryan Braun’s age starts to show and some guys don’t match what they did a year ago? Some of their pitchers also may have hit their ceiling last year as well. They had a good bullpen but they lost a big piece in Anthony Swarzak. They can also lose because the Cubs and Cardinals have a ton of talent and it’s always competitive
Bottom Line: The Brewers are a very good ballclub. It will be interesting to see how the lineup meshes with a great front of the lineup and good depth throughout. We see them as a very good contender for a wildcard spot but the Cubs have just a little too much more. Their pitching is a question mark and could use someone at the deadline maybe to get them over the hump. Yelich and Cain are studs and people undersell how big of an off-season that is by getting both
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Jimmy Nelson, SP
The Brewers are a team with some solid high-end talent with 6 players coming off 3+ WAR seasons (Nelson, Yelich, Cain, Davies, Santana, and Shaw). Nelson stands out slightly above the rest, as his underlying numbers actually outperformed his counting stats during his 4.9 WAR season. He posted a solid 12-6 W/L, 3.49 ERA with outstanding advanced metrics (3.05 FIP, 27.3 K% and 6 BB%). He also had the Major’s fourth highest swinging-strike rate (11.4%). His stuff is elite and he has the command of his repertoire to dominate with the leagues’ best. The only thing that will hinder his 2018 campaign is a sore shoulder which will keep him from starting the season on schedule.
Sinkhole: Jonathan Villar, 2B
Villar had just an awful 2017 campaign. He posted a negative WAR, and regressed terribly from his 2016 season. He was never the most patient hitter (9.1 BB% and 27.4 K% career), and last year was his worst in terms of both statistics. His power and baserunning slid (19 HR/62 SB, down to 11/23) and just could not get himself going, while adjusting to 2B on a full-time basis. His zone contact rate and swinging-strike rate was very poor too. The Brewers might as well have tried giving him a paddle in order to make contact. While his 2016 provides hope for better days, don’t expect him to ever reach those lofty standards again.
Regression Candidate: Domingo Santana, OF
Santana had a breakout campaign posting 30 HRs and 15 SBs on his way to a 3.3 WAR season. He has some serious swing and miss in his game (29.3 K%), but does walk enough to offset it. He hits the ball with authority, as evident by his 59 XBH. The reason for his regress is not rooted in his talent, but more in opportunity. Barring injury, he will start the season as the #4 outfielder for the Brewers. Hot Take: Santana posts sub-500 ABs and his WAR is cut in half.
Impact Acquisition: Christian Yelich, OF
The Brewers had a busy offseason upgrading their team and payroll in an attempt to build off their successful 2017 campaign. They upgraded two of their outfield spots in signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich. The reason for including Yelich as our impact acquisition is due to his age and surplus value his team-friendly contract will provide. He’s only 26 and on a 7/$49.6M contract. He’s been seasons of 4.5 WAR in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and expect that to continue as he possesses one of the most consistent plate profiles in the majors. Don’t expect him to go nuts and magically become one of the premier talents, but last season he provided over $30 million in surplus value (Fangraphs $9M/WAR metric). Expect extreme surplus due to the friendly nature of his deal.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Keston Hiura, 2B (56)
Corbin Burnes, RHP (69)
Brandon Woodruff, RHP (96)
Lucas Erceg, 3B
Why We Love Them: They’re kind of always the team that people seem to forget about. They’re always just “meh” even when they had Prince. Even though they play in a small market, they still have a fun, young roster that can make a run. They also have great uniforms, great logo with the glove “MB”, a sick stadium and the wiener race which is the best thing going in the MLB