2016 Recap: 73-89, 4th in the NL Central. The Brewers have turned the key on a much needed rebuild and actually ending up being a fun team to watch! The Brewers were first in the National League in stolen bases by 42 over the next closest squad. They also surprisingly finished sixth in the NL in home runs. Milwaukee dealt long time catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Texas for a group of prospects led by outfielder Lewis Brinson who appears to be extremely close to major league ready and could be up before the All Star break. While the Brewers have done a pretty good job with their rebuild so far (take notes Cincy), it will not be fully finished until they finally move face of the franchise outfielder Ryan Braun. How Braun is not on the Giants right now really blows my mind, but expect trade rumors to fly around Braun all season long while the young Brewers continue to grow.
Significant Additions: 1B Eric Thames, RHP Neftali Feliz, 3B Travis Shaw
Significant Subtractions: RHP Tyler Thornburg, 1B Chris Carter, OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- 2B Jonathan Villar
- CF Keon Broxton
- LF Ryan Braun
- 1B Eric Thames
- RF Domingo Santana
- 3B Travis Shaw
- SS Orlando Arcia
- C Andrew Susac
There is a lot of potential and athletic ability with this Brewers lineup, and it starts with leadoff man Jonathan Villar who broke out last season with an impressive .285 average with 19 home runs and 62 stolen bases. It might be hard for Villar to accomplish all of that again, but I see no reason as to why he cannot get close. There is a lot of raw power with Domingo Santana and Eric Thames is back in the States after clubbing 124 home runs the last three years in Korea. Travis Shaw is another potentially sneaky good player if he can repeat his 2016 first half with Boston. He could end up being someone the Brewers could flip for more prospects. Keep an eye on second year shortstop Orlando Arcia as Milwaukee is expecting him to be a big part of their future core.
Projected Rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- RHP Junior Guerra
- RHP Matt Garza
- RHP Zach Davies
- RHP Chase Anderson
- RHP Wily Peralta
- RHP Neftali Feliz – Closer
- RHP Corey Knebel
- RHP Carlos Torres
- RHP Jhan Marinez
- RHP Jacob Barnes
As fun as the Brewers lineup is, their pitching staff is the exact opposite. Junior Guerra was nice story last year after the Brewers found him in the independent league Guerra posted a 2.81 ERA in 20 starts, but it will be interesting to see if that success can stick this year. I actually really like second year starter Zach Davies who showed good control and a really nice ground ball rate (45.5%) last year. Miller Park is not the easiest place to pitch and Davies did a really nice job in his first full season and has the makings of a nice mid rotation piece for the Brewers future. The rest of the Brewers rotation made up of Matt Garza, Chase Anderson, and Wily Peralta are all basically just human pinatas. The Milwaukee pen will be busy when those three are on the bump this season. Speaking of the Milwaukee pen, it wasn’t very good last year and has the potential to be bad again this season. I like Corey Knebel, but he was pretty bad last year as well and just may never figure it out. Neftali Feliz at least brings some experience to this unit, but there just isn’t much happening here. Could be some interesting late innings for the Brew Crew in 2017.
Stud: OF Ryan Braun. Braun isn’t the most likeable guy around, but you do not need him to be a saint to help win your fantasy league. Braun is still putting up big numbers as he enters his eleventh big league season as he cranked out 30 home runs and stole 16 bags in 2016. For his career Braun averages 30/20. Just let that sink in for a second. Braun is available at a discount every year due in large part to his baggage and an injury history that isn’t as bad as you think it is. Grab Braun and know you that worst case you are getting 25 home runs and 15 steals from him.
Sleeper: OF Keon Broxton. Broxton was picking up some steam in fantasy circles after he had a monster spring last year then quickly failed out of the gate. In the second half however, Broxton started to really pick things up in the second half stealing 16 bases and really hitting the ball hard with an impressive .245 isolated power, showing there could be a 20/20 season as soon as this year.
Bust: 1B Eric Thames. There is a reason Eric Thames left the Majors for Korea back in 2013. He just wasn’t that good. Thames showed terrible plate discipline his first trip around the states, striking out 25% of the time and walking just 5% of the time. Thames also showed average at best power (21 homers in 181 career games), making it hard for any team to play him on a regular basis. Now I’m not saying he didn’t make major adjustments in Korea because he could very well have, but I am not willing to pay his current draft price (184th overall) to find out. There is a chance Thames is what he was before which isn’t rostorable in most fantasy leagues. Let someone else take the risk here.
2017 Record Prediction: The Brewers will be a fun watch all year long and could be on the way back to the postseason sooner rather than later. However, 2017 will be another losing season as just do not have anywhere near the pitching needed to truly compete for the postseason. 72-90, 4th in the NL Central.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo Credit: AP Photo
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/8
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC