There's been a lot of talk about the Milwaukee Brewers offense as the club heads into the playoffs. The prevailing opinions seem to be that the Brewers offense is not good enough to make a true World Series run--that is, that the offense that will ultimately be Milwaukee's downfall.
It's true that the Brewers offense, over the full course of the season, has not been stellar.
Let's take a look at the whole of the 2023 regular-season numbers:
- They are slightly below the National League average in Runs, finishing eighth in the NL (ironically, 16 runs behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, who finished seventh).
- When it comes to OPS, the Brewers put up a dismal .705, barely finishing above the San Francisco Giants at 14th in the NL. This was largely driven by their slugging percentage, an incomprehensible .385 (again, just barely above the Giants).
- Their OBP was better, but still below league-average, at .319 (ninth place in the NL, just behind the Diamondbacks).
- They hit just 165 homers, 12th in the NL.
But looking at a whole season can be misleading.
Looking at these numbers is quite eye-opening. The last 28 days have shown a different offensive club. The Milwaukee Brewers of September 2023 are a completely different offense than they were for the majority of the season, not just in numeric value but also in personnel.
This was the Brewers Opening Day Lineup this year:
There has been a huge shift in the primary offensive personnel since Opening Day. Five of the nine Opening Day starters were not the primary starters in September.
- Designated Hitter: Jesse Winker was a negative factor on the Brewers offense when healthy, with a dreadful .567 OPS this year. He has not had a single at-bat in the months of August or September. Mark Canha, acquired at the deadline, has been the primary DH over that span, and has produced an .800 OPS (and one magical grand slam).
- First Base: Carlos Santana replaced Rowdy Tellez, and has produced a .773 OPS as a Brewer, a healthy improvement on the incumbent’s .667 mark.
- Third Base: Luis Urias was horrific, even after coming back from the Opening Day injury that made Brian Anderson the primary third baseman for most of the first half. Unheralded rookie Andruw Monasterio has, surprisingly, put up an OBP-heavy .678 OPS to go along with steady defense. Milwaukee signed Josh Donaldson for September, in an effort to provide some much-needed power against left-handed pitchers. He posted a .680 OPS, with three homers. That's nothing to shout about--it's nearly identical to Monasterio’s OPS--but Donaldson did, indeed, add the power dimension.
- Center Field: Garrett Mitchell, as we know, got hurt early. He was replaced primarily by Joey Wiemer, who had a .645 OPS. Wiemer was then essentially replaced by Sal Frelick, who was really good until fading at the end of the season to finish with a .692 OPS. Now Mitchell, and his .761 OPS, looks to be back for the postseason, although probably in a backup role.
- Right Field: Anderson and his .678 OPS played primarily at third, and in the second half of the season, Tyrone Taylor got the majority of the at-bats here, posting a season OPS of .713. However, Taylor’s second half numbers (as I’ve written about in a previous article) have been borderline elite:
To summarize, here are the OPSes for the primary Brewers hitters over the last 28 days:
- William Contreras: .859
- Carlos Santana: .816
- Brice Turang: .509
- Willy Adames: .875
- Andruw Monasterio: .650
- Josh Donaldson: .680
- Christian Yelich: .950
- Sal Frelick: .660
- Tyrone Taylor: .935
- Mark Canha: .747
Obviously, that doesn't constitute an elite attack, and perhaps 28 days is not much more reliable than the full-season data. It's good to at least ensure that we're studying the right players, though, rather than discounting the team's chances at all on the basis of some empty at-bats from Winker in May or Anderson in July.