July 31, 2014

The ReclinerGM’s 2009 MLB Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

brewers

explanation of rankings and other team previews here

2008 Record: 90-72
Offseason Additions: Trevor Hoffman
Offseason Subtractions: CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne
Ranks (MLB):
Line-Up - 14th
Rotation - 25th
Bullpen - 26th
Defense - 1st tier (out of 5)
Baserunning - 3rd tier (out of 5)

KEY PLAYER: YOVANI GALLARDO                                                                         

The Brewers lost their top 2 starting pitchers to free agency this off-season, and thus far, they have replaced them with no-one. That leaves Yovani Gallardo, author of 134.1 career innings, as their incumbent ace. The soon-to-be 23 year old Gallardo has performed well in his short stint in the majors, sporting a 9-5 record and a 3.35 ERA. In the minors, he was excellent, with a 2.59 ERA and 457 strikeouts in 395.2 IP. He has excellent stuff, as he showed against the Phillies in the NLDS, but he also is an unfinished product and really an unknown quantity at this point. He has never thrown more than 155 innings in a professional season, and the Brewers need him to blow that mark out of the water to have a chance this year. 

PLAYER TO WATCH: RYAN BRAUN                                                                           

ryan-braunAny big time baseball fan knows who Ryan Braun is, but I don’t think everyone knows just how good he is. The top 3 players in SLG% in their first 2 seasons in the majors (min: 1,000 ABs) are as follows…

  1. Joe DiMaggio, .624
  2. Ted Williams, .601
  3. Ryan Braun, .588

He is also tied with Albert Pujols for 4th in HR’s over than span, behind only DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner and Eddie Matthews. And finally, the only players to hit over .300 with 70 HR and 200 RBI in their first 2 seasons in the majors are Pujols, DiMaggio and Braun. Needless to say, this kid is in good company no matter how cut his stats, and at 25, he very well may be on his way to being one of the top-5 hitters in all of baseball. 

PHILLY ANGLE                                                                                                                 

It Doesn’t Always Go As Planned

The Brewers tried to build their franchise almost exactly the same way we did. Prince Fielder was their Ryan Howard. Rickie Weeks their Chase Utley. J.J. Hardy their Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Braun their Pat Burrell. Ben Sheets their Brett Myers and Yovani Gallardo their Cole Hamels. It’s eerie how every single one our drafted core players had a corresponding player on the Brewers. In most cases, the Brewers players actually came into the league with higher expectations than their Phillies counterpart. Only Burrell and Hamels came into the league with more hype. So why are the Phillies the defending champs, and not the Brewers? The biggest disappointment for them has been Rickie Weeks, who was the 2nd overall pick in the 2003 draft. Weeks put up video game numbers in college, where he hit .500 with a .987 SLG%, but he’s never been able to put his prodigious tools to use. Fielder looked like the next great hitter after his 50 HR season in 2007, but he hit only 34 in 2008 and his OPS went down an alarming 134 points. Sheets and Gallardo have been hurt more than healthy, and Hardy and Braun have pretty much been as advertised. The point is that most scouts would have taken the Brewers 6 coming out of the minors, but no one would take them over ours now. 

QUICK HITS

Worst Contract: Jeff Suppan (4 yrs, $44 million, ends in 2010)
Best Pitch: Trevor Hoffman’s Change-up
Best Player in a Contract Year: Jason Kendall
Top Prospect: Mat Gamel, 3B
Best Individual Season: Robin Yount, 1982 (.331 BA, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 46 2B, 12 3B, 14 SB, 63 K, MVP)
Worst Uniforms1995
Where’d They Come From?

– Draft, 8
– Free Agent, 4
- Trade, 2
- Amateur FA, 0

2009 OUTLOOK

5th NL Central, 13th NL, 24th MLB

My gut tells me that the Brewers should be better than this, but my formula can’t get past their unstable rotation. After Gallardo, they have Dave Bush (due to take a step back), Jeff Suppan (4.96 ERA in 2008), Manny Parra (young arm with promise) and Seth McClung (no business in an MLB rotation). Could be OK, but not a rotation that I think will have anyone in the playoff race. It will be interesting to see if Fielder can bounce back from last season or if pitchers were able to figure him out last year. Also, this is probably Rickie Weeks’ last chance to figure it out. He’s 26 and has hit .230 the last two years. On a side note, Miller Park remains one of my favorite parks and perhaps the most underrated park in baseball.

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Comments

  1. max says:

    also on a side note…awesome logo

  2. Pete says:

    yes, its a wonderful moment for every sports fan when they realize that that is an “M” and a “B”

    same as when I found out the expos logo was an “m” “e” and “b” for montreal expos baseball
  3. jkay says:

    poor brewers…they might as well do like the marlins and blow up and trade for prospects every season. heck once Ryan Braun sees the daylight from his rookie contract he’ll bail for big money from the big teams. MLB needs to do something about this; salary cap?? No but someway to even it out, not everyone can get it all at once like the Rays (thank Goodness they had the good sense to finally drop the ‘Devil’).

  4. Stu says:

    Pete, don’t forget that they also had Matt LaPorta as a homegrown “future stud” up until the deadline last season.

  5. Pete says:

    looks like they signed Braden Looper. So McClung won’t be in the rotation after all. 

  6. bski says:

    It feels great to say that Pat Gillick’s method proved to be the right one in the end.  Winning the championship has vindicated him.

    Remember, the Brewers were the ones who went all in when they got Sabathia (and lost LaPorta in the process like you said, Stu).  Meanwhile, “Stand Pat” made a lesser deal for Blanton and held on to our top prospects.

    The Brewers made a good run at it but came up short, weakening themselves over the long run in the process.  On the other hand, we were able to go all the way and still stay solid enough to get several more shots at it.

  7. bski says:

    Robin Yount was a lot of fun to watch.  He broke in so young (18) and piled up the hits to the point where I thought for a while that he might actually become the “Hit King”.  If memory serves, he was the youngest to reach 1500, 2000, and 2500 hits.  Problem is he “only” played 20 years and his numbers were declining in the 90′s (1990-1993).

    I just did a quick check of the stats out of curiosity.  I would say that most people would agree that Yount was a great player (he is in the HOF after all) and was also considered a fantastic offensive shortstop.  You know where I’m going with this, right?  Even though many of us consider Rollins to be a great player and agree that he is the best SS in Phillies history, many of us, myself included, seem to harp on his deficiencies (hits too many fly balls), on what he does not do (draw enough walks), or on what he should be doing more of (hitting more line drives and ground balls and getting on base more).

    So, let’s compare Rollin’s numbers to those of Yount.  Here are their numbers over their careers:

    Per 162 games (Yount/Rollins)….AB (624/682), Runs (93/109), Hits (178/189), 2b (33/40), 3b (7/12), HR (14/16), RBI (80/70), SB (15/38), CS (6/8), BB (55/55), SO (77/90), BA (.285/.277), OBP (.342/.333), OBP (.430/.441), TB (268/301)

    Also, defensively Yount had a career fielding % over 11 years at SS of 0.964 (against a league FP of 0.964), while Rollins has a FP over 8 years at SS of 0.982 (against a league FP of 0.973).

    I know that the 80′s and the 00′s are two different eras, but I’d say that Rollins compares pretty well.  What really surprised me were the walk (same as Yount), strikeout (not much worse especially considering Rollins struck out over 100 times in each of his first three full seasons), and the OBP (better the Yount) numbers.  I realize that Yount played 20 years and Rollins has a long way to go to match Yount’s consistency, but I am pleasantly surprised at how well he compares.  I wanted to pull out Yount’s stats specifically for the years he played SS (his first 11 seasons), but I couldn’t so I went with career averages over 162 games instead (which include Yount’s final 9 seasons when he played centerfield).

    For what it’s worth.

  8. bski says:

    I need to correct an error in my previous post.  In the comparison of Yount’s and Rollins’ career stats per 162 games, the second OBP listed (.430/.441) is actually Slugging %.  Sorry about that.

  9. Pete says:

    bski-

    excellent comparison of those two players. 
    your point about the times is big though, as Young led the league more categories, more times than Rollins. (including SLG% one year, which Rollins will never do). 
    on baseball-refernce.com, the player most similar to Rollins at age 29 is Ryne Sandberg, followed by Alan Trammell, Roberto Alomar and HOFer Bobby Doerr. 
  10. bski says:

    Yeah Pete, I know the fact that they played in two very different eras is a big factor.  That’s why I emphasized the walks, strikeouts and obp.  I figured Rollins would trail Yount by a good bit in these areas.  Surprisingly, he does not. 

    Plate discipline is an intrinsic thing that is totally under each individual players control regardless of outside factors, such as park size for example.  As such, it cuts across all eras, IMO.  You’ve either got it (or develop it) or you don’t.  The extent to which you have it leads, in turn,  to greater production and better numbers in other areas (of course how much greater is dependent on other factors that exist in your particular era).

    Thanks for mentioning the comparisons to Rollins on baseball-reference.com (not bad company for him to be in, btw).  When I was talking about Yount earlier, I got to thinking about who would be comparable to him from this era.  The first guy that popped into my head was Craig Biggio (I should probably save this for the Astros preview but oh well).  I thought of Biggio because of the similar longevity, consistent productivity, and the fact that he also played multiple positions.  Just as Yount played SS for the first 11 years of his career then moved to CF for the last 9, Biggio started out at C (made an all-star team), moved to 2b (made several all-star teams), and finished up in the outfield.  Anyway, I went back to Yount’s page on baseball-reference.com to check and, sure enough, Biggio is #2 on the comparison list, right below Paul Molitor (whom we should be talking about under the Brewers preview.  Maybe a little under the Blue Jays and Twins previews as well when the come up).

  11. Jimmy says:

    jkay, Braun is locked up through 2015, so he’s not going anywhere. Also, Pete, I think 5th place is really low for the Brewers. They’ve improved their bullpen, which was awful last season. Interesting note, had Bradon Looper played for the Brewers last season, he would have led their team in innings pitched, at 199.

    Finally, I agree that Miller Park is very underrated. I like not having obstructed views and parts of the stadium falling apart around me (cough, Wrigley, cough).

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