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  • Metrics Saw Brewers' Power Stroke Coming


    Tim Muma

    The Milwaukee Brewers raised their team OPS from .599 to .724 in a mere nine contests. It has been a remarkable run of power that the metrics saw coming, culminating in an 18-run outburst Wednesday and another 10-spot Thursday in a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

    Image courtesy of MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

    Brewers Video

    The writing was on the wall for an offensive boom over the past eight to 10 days. After some tough luck the first couple of weeks, production has picked up a ton over the last nine games as the Brewers hit 20 home runs on their six-game homestand. A quick look at the season-long Statcast numbers foreshadowed more success for a few of the Brewers.

    Rowdy Tellez was one of them, and he deserves the attention he's getting following his franchise-record eight RBI game Wednesday. Thanks to a grand slam, a two-run home run, and a two-run double, Tellez has vaulted to the top of Milwaukee's productivity. But players like Christian Yelich, Hunter Renfroe, and Willy Adames (the reigning NL Player of the Week) were knocking on the door for much of 2022 based on their ability to strike the ball with their bat's barrel.

    The most prominent example is Tellez, who came into Thursday's game ranked third in MLB in Barrels per Plate Appearance Percentage (Brls/PA%). Consistently hitting the ball on the barrel of the bat is a reliable factor in offensive production. Barrel contact creates hard-hit balls, which lead to more frequent hits, extra bases, and home runs.

    Tellez's 15.1 Barrels/PA% ranked him behind only Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. Not bad company to keep. Milwaukee has three other hitters in the top-12 of qualified players in baseball, with Yelich and Adames at 10.7% (10th) and Renfroe at 10.6% (12th). To have four out of the league's batters sitting within the best 15 "barrel men" is a recipe for success. 

    How have the consistent barrels translated for this quartet lately? Over the past week or so (not counting Thursday), they have been supplying a ton of power. Renfroe had three homers in his previous seven games, but the other three have been other-worldly, going well beyond just dingers.

    Brewers Last Week Power.JPG

    And once again, the stats above don't include Thursday's numbers when Tellez (2-for-5, two doubles), Yelich (3-for-5, HR, double), and Adames (2-for-4, two HR) continued to go off. Thanks to these three, Milwaukee has scored 72 runs over its past nine games (8.0 per game). As of the end of the Brewers' game on Thursday, they are tied for the most home runs (35) in MLB with the New York Yankees.

    One key for Yelich, as has been the case for years, is that he continues to scald the baseball. Entering Wednesday, he owned a Hard-Hit Percentage (Hard Hit%) of 55.7%, good for 13th in MLB. So nearly 56% of the time he puts the ball in play, Yelich's exit velocity is 95 MPH or better. Often the difference between hits and outs for Yelich is dependent on him simply getting the ball off the ground.

    For Adames, he is starting to convince people that his performance with Milwaukee last season was legit. Like many hitters, he got off to a slow start. Now he's back to being that spark for the offense they needed a year ago and are now benefitting from in 2022 as well. After Thursday, he now has seven homers in his last 10 contests.

    Meanwhile, Tellez's recent outbursts have caught up to his Statcast rankings, which have been on fire for most of the season. Even if you don't know what all these metrics mean, you only have to understand that seeing lots of red is a fantastic sign.

    Tellez Statcast.JPG

    A true breakout for Tellez would be a massive boost to the Brewers' offense. Many people believed that if he was given the opportunity to play every day, he could become a masher, especially playing at home at American Family Field. It's still extremely early in the year, but the numbers are mouthwatering right now: .275/.341/.625/.966 with seven HR, 15 runs, and 22 RBI.

    None of this is to say that Tellez will be an MVP candidate, or any of them will continue to rake throughout May, let alone the entire season. However, consistent barrels are a valuable indicator of likely production. Luck and other factors can get in the way, but hitting the ball with the best part of the bat is every hitter's goal. The more one can accomplish it, the better one's chances of doing damage.

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