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  1. Brian Anderson provides the Brewers with a player with upside that also further crowds the roster. Does that mean another move could be coming? Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports The Milwaukee Brewers have signed rebound candidate Brian Anderson to a $3.5 million deal with $2 million in incentives. With any signing, there is a ripple effect on the roster, but this signing may have a notable effect on two players: Keston Hiura and Tyrone Taylor. Hiura’s nonexistent fit on the 2023 Brewers roster has been well-documented. A trade of the one-time promising prospect feels like a foregone conclusion at this point. However, we are midway through January, and Hiura is still a Brewer. Anderson is now the third infielder added to the Brewers roster this offseason. Those three join a group that includes Luis Urias, Brice Turang, Mike Brosseau, Abraham Toro, Owen Miller, Rowdy Tellez, and Anderson. The Brewers have yet to show confidence in playing Hiura regularly anywhere in his career. Considering the number of players on the roster that duplicate or best what he brings to the playing field, it still feels like a matter of time before he is gone. Taylor is a slightly different case. He still has value on the Brewers, even if functionally, it is only to be a placeholder for one of the young guys waiting in the wings. Taylor’s movement could come more from a team's pursuit that needs someone of his skillset as right-handed outfielders continue to get snatched up off the free-agent market. Anderson’s presence provides one more veteran option for the Brewers that could play a corner spot in the outfield. While Anderson is best known as a third baseman, he has also played over 1,500 innings as an outfielder. Each season he has posted a positive DRS, finishing with a +2 DRS in 2022. However, Outs Above Average isn’t nearly as fond of Anderson, with a -3 OAA. Anderson could provide at least passable defense in the corners for the Brewers with a cannon arm to compensate for some of his shortcomings. The New York Mets just signed Tommy Pham for $6 million after hitting .236/.312/.374 with an 89 wRC+. Teams looking for a right-handed outfielder could find Taylor after hitting .233/.286/.442 with a 102 wRC+ to be appealing. The one drawback for Taylor is like his teammates Anderson and Hiura, Taylor is also a right-hander that hit right-handed pitching better in 2022, though that was counter to his career numbers. Over his career, Taylor carries a .253 average against lefties and a .235 average against righties, though his overall OPS carries nearly identical platoon splits (.755 OPS vs RHP, .761 OPS vs LHP). Another positive for Taylor is that he can provide center field defense and played 669 innings at the position in 2022. Those innings were good for +6 DRS and +4 OAA. Of course, all those positive traits may be why the Brewers hang on to Taylor, at least until the team is more confident Sal Frelick is ready for a call-up. The addition of Anderson does at least provide a path to a trade without automatically turning things over to one of the prospects on Opening Day. How do you see Anderson impacting the roster? Is a trade coming, or do all these pieces somehow fit together? View full article
  2. The Milwaukee Brewers have signed rebound candidate Brian Anderson to a $3.5 million deal with $2 million in incentives. With any signing, there is a ripple effect on the roster, but this signing may have a notable effect on two players: Keston Hiura and Tyrone Taylor. Hiura’s nonexistent fit on the 2023 Brewers roster has been well-documented. A trade of the one-time promising prospect feels like a foregone conclusion at this point. However, we are midway through January, and Hiura is still a Brewer. Anderson is now the third infielder added to the Brewers roster this offseason. Those three join a group that includes Luis Urias, Brice Turang, Mike Brosseau, Abraham Toro, Owen Miller, Rowdy Tellez, and Anderson. The Brewers have yet to show confidence in playing Hiura regularly anywhere in his career. Considering the number of players on the roster that duplicate or best what he brings to the playing field, it still feels like a matter of time before he is gone. Taylor is a slightly different case. He still has value on the Brewers, even if functionally, it is only to be a placeholder for one of the young guys waiting in the wings. Taylor’s movement could come more from a team's pursuit that needs someone of his skillset as right-handed outfielders continue to get snatched up off the free-agent market. Anderson’s presence provides one more veteran option for the Brewers that could play a corner spot in the outfield. While Anderson is best known as a third baseman, he has also played over 1,500 innings as an outfielder. Each season he has posted a positive DRS, finishing with a +2 DRS in 2022. However, Outs Above Average isn’t nearly as fond of Anderson, with a -3 OAA. Anderson could provide at least passable defense in the corners for the Brewers with a cannon arm to compensate for some of his shortcomings. The New York Mets just signed Tommy Pham for $6 million after hitting .236/.312/.374 with an 89 wRC+. Teams looking for a right-handed outfielder could find Taylor after hitting .233/.286/.442 with a 102 wRC+ to be appealing. The one drawback for Taylor is like his teammates Anderson and Hiura, Taylor is also a right-hander that hit right-handed pitching better in 2022, though that was counter to his career numbers. Over his career, Taylor carries a .253 average against lefties and a .235 average against righties, though his overall OPS carries nearly identical platoon splits (.755 OPS vs RHP, .761 OPS vs LHP). Another positive for Taylor is that he can provide center field defense and played 669 innings at the position in 2022. Those innings were good for +6 DRS and +4 OAA. Of course, all those positive traits may be why the Brewers hang on to Taylor, at least until the team is more confident Sal Frelick is ready for a call-up. The addition of Anderson does at least provide a path to a trade without automatically turning things over to one of the prospects on Opening Day. How do you see Anderson impacting the roster? Is a trade coming, or do all these pieces somehow fit together?
  3. The Milwaukee Brewers have already had a busy offseason, and more moves are coming. While they could roll into Opening Day with the current position players, the outfield has questions and is far from settled. Fortunately, there's plenty of time to improve and solidify this part of the roster. Image courtesy of © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports There's an exciting mix of players for the Milwaukee Brewers to choose a core outfield but they need to create the right combination of offensive production and defensive reliability. Part of that stems from the possible reliance on more than one rookie regularly in the upcoming season. So while the Brewers have internal decisions to make, they also should be looking to add one more outfield alternative from outside the organization. When GM Matt Arnold traded right fielder Hunter Renfroe to the Anaheim Angels, it left a giant hole in the lineup. Arnold replaced that divot with Jesse Winker in a swap with the Seattle Mariners, but that wasn't an equal replacement as Winker bats from the left side and is a sizable dropoff defensively. It's likely Winker occupies the designated hitter spot most nights against right-handed pitchers, but that still leaves right field open and a lineup slot versus lefties. Here's a look at the group Milwaukee could choose from internally to be on the 26-man roster: Christian Yelich (L) Leadoff hitter with quality on-base skills and hard contact (.355 OBP, 111 OPS+ in 2022) Average-to-below-average defensive skills but has one of the weakest arms in the outfield Jesse Winker (L) Among the worst defenders last season with a bad arm and -16 defensive runs saved (last among outfielders with 200 innings played) MVP-level offense against right-handed pitching in his career (.388 OBP, .885 OPS) but struggles vs. lefties Tyrone Taylor (R) Quality outfielder who can play all three positions and provides decent power (.448 SLG past two seasons) Best suited as a fourth outfielder playing a few times a week due to poor plate discipline (102 K, 22 BB in 2022) Garrett Mitchell (L) Played only 28 MLB games last season, with up-and-down results Showed off speed and defensive ability in center field and posted an .832 OPS, but he looked overmatched at times and averaged one strikeout per game Sal Frelick (L) Brewers' number two prospect with plate discipline (.403 OBP in minors in 2022), highly-rated hit tool, and top speed Questions about him in center field and little in-game power Joey Wiemer (R) Brewers' number three prospect with a power bat (21 HR, 34 doubles in minors last season), strong arm, and sneaky speed High strikeout guy with few walks and average defense Each five-man option has its concerns and apparent warts. Yelich, Winker, and Taylor are locks on the 26-man roster if they're with the organization. That leaves only three rookies to choose from (Mitchell still has rookie status) for the remaining two slots. Having two rookies on the big league roster as outfielders are problematic for two reasons: 1) It's difficult to rely on their bats for consistent production in the lineup (and possibly three rookies with infielder Brice Turang). 2) If one of them is not playing much, their development is stunted, and they would be better off getting regular at-bats in the minor leagues. But let's say the Brewers roll the dice and decide the best route. Which two guys fortify the team better? Mitchell and Frelick are left-handed and profile as speed and contact guys overpower. If you keep both of them, you have four left-handed hitting outfielders with only Taylor as a right-handed stick. Not ideal since the Brewers should limit Winker's appearances against southpaws. So could Wiemer, a power bat pegged for a corner spot, pair with one of the lefty center fielders? Wiemer's hit tool is the question, and if he struggles, will he get the at-bats he needs to figure out MLB pitching? In either scenario, but especially if Milwaukee kept the two lefty bats, Taylor would see a lot more action in 2023. The more at-bats Taylor receives, the more he scuffles. Taylor's best output comes in limited action against carefully selected pitchers. For example, in 2021, he had 271 plate appearances and posted a .247/.321/.457 slash line. In 2022, with 405 plate appearances, those numbers dipped to .233/.286/.442. All this leads to exploring the Brewers' options outside of the club. There are still a few viable free agents and possible trade targets. Assuming Milwaukee isn't getting a top-tier hitter, the new acquisition should hit right-handed to provide additional coverage versus lefty pitching. Trade Candidates Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles): Santander blasted 33 HR last season for a 117 OPS+. The switch-hitter was on the trade block at last year's deadline before hitting 14 homers in the final two months. He's been a solid right fielder in his career, as well. Baltimore has up-and-coming outfielders and needs pitching badly. Could Adrian Houser and a minor-league arm be enough? Ramón Laureano (Oakland A's): The Brewers were mentioned as a destination for Laureano at the trade deadline, and Oakland is dumping veterans left and right. He had a rough 2022 but owned a career .324 OBP and .444 SLG while playing half his games in a vast pitcher's park. With a 111 OPS+ in 2021, his bat could reawaken in Milwaukee, and he brings plus defense to right field, as well. You would think Oakland would be happy with a couple of prospects. Free Agents Wil Myers: He has had only one season with an OPS+ below 108 since 2015. Myers' playing time was severely limited in 2022, and he could be drawn to more opportunity in Milwaukee, where he could easily pop 20 home runs playing half his games in American Family Field instead of cavernous Petco Park. His right field defense is inconsistent but not terrible, and he could help with coverage at first base. AJ Pollock: He took a step back last season but had a tremendous 134 OPS+ in 2021. You wouldn't expect that in 2023 at age 35, but he can still provide value at the plate and in the field. As a bonus, Pollock crushes left-handers, including a .619 slugging percentage and .935 OPS last season. He lost a step as a center fielder but would also play well in right with a strong arm. Adding one of these for players gives the lineup more punch and reliability from the outfield, especially against lefties. It would also allow one of the rookies to start regularly with the Brewers while the other two continue to hone their skills on the farm. It's also possible that the Brewers trade Taylor or one of the youngsters is traded for another significant piece, but that's for another article. Who would your five-man outfield group be for Opening Day 2023? View full article
  4. There's an exciting mix of players for the Milwaukee Brewers to choose a core outfield but they need to create the right combination of offensive production and defensive reliability. Part of that stems from the possible reliance on more than one rookie regularly in the upcoming season. So while the Brewers have internal decisions to make, they also should be looking to add one more outfield alternative from outside the organization. When GM Matt Arnold traded right fielder Hunter Renfroe to the Anaheim Angels, it left a giant hole in the lineup. Arnold replaced that divot with Jesse Winker in a swap with the Seattle Mariners, but that wasn't an equal replacement as Winker bats from the left side and is a sizable dropoff defensively. It's likely Winker occupies the designated hitter spot most nights against right-handed pitchers, but that still leaves right field open and a lineup slot versus lefties. Here's a look at the group Milwaukee could choose from internally to be on the 26-man roster: Christian Yelich (L) Leadoff hitter with quality on-base skills and hard contact (.355 OBP, 111 OPS+ in 2022) Average-to-below-average defensive skills but has one of the weakest arms in the outfield Jesse Winker (L) Among the worst defenders last season with a bad arm and -16 defensive runs saved (last among outfielders with 200 innings played) MVP-level offense against right-handed pitching in his career (.388 OBP, .885 OPS) but struggles vs. lefties Tyrone Taylor (R) Quality outfielder who can play all three positions and provides decent power (.448 SLG past two seasons) Best suited as a fourth outfielder playing a few times a week due to poor plate discipline (102 K, 22 BB in 2022) Garrett Mitchell (L) Played only 28 MLB games last season, with up-and-down results Showed off speed and defensive ability in center field and posted an .832 OPS, but he looked overmatched at times and averaged one strikeout per game Sal Frelick (L) Brewers' number two prospect with plate discipline (.403 OBP in minors in 2022), highly-rated hit tool, and top speed Questions about him in center field and little in-game power Joey Wiemer (R) Brewers' number three prospect with a power bat (21 HR, 34 doubles in minors last season), strong arm, and sneaky speed High strikeout guy with few walks and average defense Each five-man option has its concerns and apparent warts. Yelich, Winker, and Taylor are locks on the 26-man roster if they're with the organization. That leaves only three rookies to choose from (Mitchell still has rookie status) for the remaining two slots. Having two rookies on the big league roster as outfielders are problematic for two reasons: 1) It's difficult to rely on their bats for consistent production in the lineup (and possibly three rookies with infielder Brice Turang). 2) If one of them is not playing much, their development is stunted, and they would be better off getting regular at-bats in the minor leagues. But let's say the Brewers roll the dice and decide the best route. Which two guys fortify the team better? Mitchell and Frelick are left-handed and profile as speed and contact guys overpower. If you keep both of them, you have four left-handed hitting outfielders with only Taylor as a right-handed stick. Not ideal since the Brewers should limit Winker's appearances against southpaws. So could Wiemer, a power bat pegged for a corner spot, pair with one of the lefty center fielders? Wiemer's hit tool is the question, and if he struggles, will he get the at-bats he needs to figure out MLB pitching? In either scenario, but especially if Milwaukee kept the two lefty bats, Taylor would see a lot more action in 2023. The more at-bats Taylor receives, the more he scuffles. Taylor's best output comes in limited action against carefully selected pitchers. For example, in 2021, he had 271 plate appearances and posted a .247/.321/.457 slash line. In 2022, with 405 plate appearances, those numbers dipped to .233/.286/.442. All this leads to exploring the Brewers' options outside of the club. There are still a few viable free agents and possible trade targets. Assuming Milwaukee isn't getting a top-tier hitter, the new acquisition should hit right-handed to provide additional coverage versus lefty pitching. Trade Candidates Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles): Santander blasted 33 HR last season for a 117 OPS+. The switch-hitter was on the trade block at last year's deadline before hitting 14 homers in the final two months. He's been a solid right fielder in his career, as well. Baltimore has up-and-coming outfielders and needs pitching badly. Could Adrian Houser and a minor-league arm be enough? Ramón Laureano (Oakland A's): The Brewers were mentioned as a destination for Laureano at the trade deadline, and Oakland is dumping veterans left and right. He had a rough 2022 but owned a career .324 OBP and .444 SLG while playing half his games in a vast pitcher's park. With a 111 OPS+ in 2021, his bat could reawaken in Milwaukee, and he brings plus defense to right field, as well. You would think Oakland would be happy with a couple of prospects. Free Agents Wil Myers: He has had only one season with an OPS+ below 108 since 2015. Myers' playing time was severely limited in 2022, and he could be drawn to more opportunity in Milwaukee, where he could easily pop 20 home runs playing half his games in American Family Field instead of cavernous Petco Park. His right field defense is inconsistent but not terrible, and he could help with coverage at first base. AJ Pollock: He took a step back last season but had a tremendous 134 OPS+ in 2021. You wouldn't expect that in 2023 at age 35, but he can still provide value at the plate and in the field. As a bonus, Pollock crushes left-handers, including a .619 slugging percentage and .935 OPS last season. He lost a step as a center fielder but would also play well in right with a strong arm. Adding one of these for players gives the lineup more punch and reliability from the outfield, especially against lefties. It would also allow one of the rookies to start regularly with the Brewers while the other two continue to hone their skills on the farm. It's also possible that the Brewers trade Taylor or one of the youngsters is traded for another significant piece, but that's for another article. Who would your five-man outfield group be for Opening Day 2023?
  5. The Brewers' outfield, designated hitter, and bench have lots of question marks that will require placeholders. The outfield also has the single most significant financial commitment ever on the Brew Crew's books. This is Part 2 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders, and came up with a $31M commitment for next year. Today we look at the rest of the offense. Left Field – Much has been made of the nine-year $215 million extension that Christian Yelich signed in spring training of 2020, but fortunately, we don't need to unpack all that here. For our purposes, we need to know it includes a guaranteed $26M salary next year with a full no-trade clause. Write it in ink. Center Field – Lorenzo Cain's contract comes off the books this year, and the Brewers just released Jonathan Davis. Tyrone Taylor started the most games last year and is not arbitration eligible yet, so he'll make close to the MLB minimum of $700K. If you have a favorite prospect to play here, they make the same amount, so Taylor will be our default choice and number. Right Field – The Brewers can offer arbitration to Hunter Renfroe for one last year, which, unfortunately (unless you're Renfroe), means a significant raise. We'll estimate he increases last year's $7.65M salary to around $10M for our napkin. With 29 home runs, that might even be low. Designated Hitter – Andrew McCutcheon is a free agent, and this looks like an excellent opportunity to add a bat. But we also haven't mentioned Keston Hiura yet. It's his first year of arbitration, which should net him about $2.5M, so we'll pencil him in here for now Bench – If the season started today, those four bench spots on our list would probably need to be filled by minor leaguers making the minimum salary. We'll put those numbers in for now, assuming that eventually they'll increase slightly with some veterans, or by bumping players like Taylor or Hiura with free agent signings. Here's where we're at: We total $73M for the team's offensive half, and that's the side we'll likely see even more money spent. Plus, we haven't got to the team's supposed strength, including a couple of ace-level pitchers that should get significant raises. We'll tackle that next time.
  6. The offseason begins five days after the last game of the World Series, and the Brewers will be open for business. But what can we reasonably expect them to spend? To find out, we looked at the team's payroll situation at a back-of-the-napkin level. The infield was pretty straightforward. The outfield is a different story. Image courtesy of © Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports The Brewers' outfield, designated hitter, and bench have lots of question marks that will require placeholders. The outfield also has the single most significant financial commitment ever on the Brew Crew's books. This is Part 2 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders, and came up with a $31M commitment for next year. Today we look at the rest of the offense. Left Field – Much has been made of the nine-year $215 million extension that Christian Yelich signed in spring training of 2020, but fortunately, we don't need to unpack all that here. For our purposes, we need to know it includes a guaranteed $26M salary next year with a full no-trade clause. Write it in ink. Center Field – Lorenzo Cain's contract comes off the books this year, and the Brewers just released Jonathan Davis. Tyrone Taylor started the most games last year and is not arbitration eligible yet, so he'll make close to the MLB minimum of $700K. If you have a favorite prospect to play here, they make the same amount, so Taylor will be our default choice and number. Right Field – The Brewers can offer arbitration to Hunter Renfroe for one last year, which, unfortunately (unless you're Renfroe), means a significant raise. We'll estimate he increases last year's $7.65M salary to around $10M for our napkin. With 29 home runs, that might even be low. Designated Hitter – Andrew McCutcheon is a free agent, and this looks like an excellent opportunity to add a bat. But we also haven't mentioned Keston Hiura yet. It's his first year of arbitration, which should net him about $2.5M, so we'll pencil him in here for now Bench – If the season started today, those four bench spots on our list would probably need to be filled by minor leaguers making the minimum salary. We'll put those numbers in for now, assuming that eventually they'll increase slightly with some veterans, or by bumping players like Taylor or Hiura with free agent signings. Here's where we're at: We total $73M for the team's offensive half, and that's the side we'll likely see even more money spent. Plus, we haven't got to the team's supposed strength, including a couple of ace-level pitchers that should get significant raises. We'll tackle that next time. View full article
  7. Jake McGree was recently released by the San Francisco Giants. After posting a 2.72 ERA last season for San Francisco, McGee had tallied a 7.17 mark across 21 1/3 innings this season. Although the FIP isn’t horrible at 4.14, McGee’s stuff clearly is lacking the same effect. Posting an 8.7 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 a year ago, McGee owns just a 4.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 this season. The hope for Milwaukee would be that he can slot somewhere into middle relief, with both Josh Hader and Devin Williams already accounting for the high leverage innings. If McGee can be sorted out by the Brewers, they then extend the overall ability of their bullpen and get someone with previous big-game experience. Tyrone Taylor returns to the lineup after being out since July 1. Playing 62 games for the Brewers this year, Taylor owns a .228/.277/.423 slash line. The power he broke out with last season has remained, but it’s come at the cost of plate discipline. Taylor’s tumbling on-base percentage is punctuated by a 52/12 K/BB. The Brewers start the second half up by just a half-game in the NL Central. Still without key pitching arms, Milwaukee will try to hold serve and continue looking toward better health.
  8. With Major League Baseball getting back in full swing following the All-Star Break, Milwaukee didn’t take long to make noise. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the Brewers have signed reliever Jake McGee to a major league deal. The club also activated outfielder Tyron Taylor off the injured list. Jake McGree was recently released by the San Francisco Giants. After posting a 2.72 ERA last season for San Francisco, McGee had tallied a 7.17 mark across 21 1/3 innings this season. Although the FIP isn’t horrible at 4.14, McGee’s stuff clearly is lacking the same effect. Posting an 8.7 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 a year ago, McGee owns just a 4.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 this season. The hope for Milwaukee would be that he can slot somewhere into middle relief, with both Josh Hader and Devin Williams already accounting for the high leverage innings. If McGee can be sorted out by the Brewers, they then extend the overall ability of their bullpen and get someone with previous big-game experience. Tyrone Taylor returns to the lineup after being out since July 1. Playing 62 games for the Brewers this year, Taylor owns a .228/.277/.423 slash line. The power he broke out with last season has remained, but it’s come at the cost of plate discipline. Taylor’s tumbling on-base percentage is punctuated by a 52/12 K/BB. The Brewers start the second half up by just a half-game in the NL Central. Still without key pitching arms, Milwaukee will try to hold serve and continue looking toward better health. View full article
  9. The outfield, laden with veteran bats, was supposed to be the engine that drives the Brewers offense. But one of the pistons stopped firing, and the Brew Crew is searching for solutions. See if you agree with our grades. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below. View full article
  10. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below.
  11. Although most fans were reveling in the long weekend and taking part in Fourth of July activities, the Milwaukee Brewers kicked off a busy few days of transactions starting on Friday. Six total moves impacted the mound and lineup, moving plenty of players around. On Friday the first move came when right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right flexor strain. Houser has made 15 starts this season for Milwaukee and has followed up a 2021 in which he established himself as a consistent part of the starting rotation. Replacing Houser on the active roster was right-handed pitcher Trevor Kelley. Kelley’s activation from Triple-A Nashville didn’t last long however, as left-handed pitcher Aaron Ashby was reinstated from the injured list on Saturday. Ashby last pitched on June 16 and has logged nearly 60 innings while pitching in both a starting and relief role. He made the start on Saturday going 3 2/3 innings allowing four runs on five hits while striking out six. Sunday saw The Crew sending outfielder Tyrone Taylor to the seven-day injured list with a concussion, retroactive to Saturday. Taylor has posted a .700 OPS across more than 200 at-bats this season. Catcher Pedro Severino was activated following a suspension for PEDs that he was handed prior to Opening Day of the 2022 season. This is Severino’s first season in Milwaukee, and he’s coming off a .690 OPS with the Baltimore Orioles last season. His 11 home runs were the second most in a single-season of his career, trailing only the 13 he hit with Baltimore in 2019. View full article
  12. On Friday the first move came when right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right flexor strain. Houser has made 15 starts this season for Milwaukee and has followed up a 2021 in which he established himself as a consistent part of the starting rotation. Replacing Houser on the active roster was right-handed pitcher Trevor Kelley. Kelley’s activation from Triple-A Nashville didn’t last long however, as left-handed pitcher Aaron Ashby was reinstated from the injured list on Saturday. Ashby last pitched on June 16 and has logged nearly 60 innings while pitching in both a starting and relief role. He made the start on Saturday going 3 2/3 innings allowing four runs on five hits while striking out six. Sunday saw The Crew sending outfielder Tyrone Taylor to the seven-day injured list with a concussion, retroactive to Saturday. Taylor has posted a .700 OPS across more than 200 at-bats this season. Catcher Pedro Severino was activated following a suspension for PEDs that he was handed prior to Opening Day of the 2022 season. This is Severino’s first season in Milwaukee, and he’s coming off a .690 OPS with the Baltimore Orioles last season. His 11 home runs were the second most in a single-season of his career, trailing only the 13 he hit with Baltimore in 2019.
  13. It is no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers' offense is a source of concern for the club's World Series hopes. Perhaps the answer to a more consistent offense lies in the somewhat-neglected stolen base. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment. View full article
  14. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment.
  15. With 35 games now completed for the Milwaukee Brewers, which comes out to almost a quarter of the season, there is a large enough sample size to determine trends that could be considered glaring issues. Even though the offense has picked up some in the last week or so, it is still the biggest concern for the BCCC crew as they just don't have confidence in the consistency yet. Whether its specifically around the offense's approach to the plate / inability to extend an at bat, certain players in the lineup that are platooning, or even down to the lineup Craig Counsell puts together before the game, Brew City Couch Committee looks to analyze and discuss this concern of theirs. View full video
  16. With 35 games now completed for the Milwaukee Brewers, which comes out to almost a quarter of the season, there is a large enough sample size to determine trends that could be considered glaring issues. Even though the offense has picked up some in the last week or so, it is still the biggest concern for the BCCC crew as they just don't have confidence in the consistency yet. Whether its specifically around the offense's approach to the plate / inability to extend an at bat, certain players in the lineup that are platooning, or even down to the lineup Craig Counsell puts together before the game, Brew City Couch Committee looks to analyze and discuss this concern of theirs.
  17. It says something about modern baseball: a game with dual no-hitters going through six innings still required 3:01 to complete in front of a sparsely-attended PNC Park on a cold night in Pittsburgh. Brewers 3, Pirates 1 W: Trevor Gott (1-0) L: Wil Crowe (1-1) S: Josh Hader (10) After a wild 12-8 Brewers win the night before that saw Craig Counsell use five pitchers, he needed a quiet night from young lefty Aaron Ashby, which he received if you only look at runs scored. Ashby struggled with command but was ultimately effective, pitching 5.2 innings while only allowing a single hit and issuing five walks. Opposing Ashby, the Pirates used Dillon Peters as a two-inning opener, followed by Bryse Wilson filling the traditional starter role with a four-inning start. I feel like this isn’t something we’re seeing nearly as often this season after openers became trendy in 2020 and 2021, and I’m entirely okay with that being the case. We need baseball to look more like it was 30 years ago, not less. Through the first two-thirds of the game, the Brewer and Pirate pitching staffs tossed zeroes at each other, allowing no hits until Bryan Reynolds singled on a grounder to Willy Adames with two outs in the sixth. While it may appear the pitching staff of both teams was dialed in, watching the game gave a far different impression as the Brewers walked seven while the Pirates walked four. And the lack of hits was often the result of luck on both sides, not dominant pitching. Before Kolten Wong doubled hard to right field in the sixth for the first Brewer hit, Brewer hitters had made contact on balls with the resulting xBA (expected Batting Average): 930, .670, .550, .420, .480. The number of actual hits? Zero. Thankfully, things finally started to roll in the top of the seventh, with the Pirates holding a 1-0 lead after a shaky fifth inning from Ashby, which saw him exit with two outs in the sixth. Leading off the inning, Christian Yelich pulled a 105.9 mph ground ball past the first baseman against Pirate reliever Wil Crowe. Hunter Renfroe quickly blooped a single to right-center, with Yelich taking third. The Pirates continued their Bad News Bears routine as Tellez smashed a ground ball under the glove of first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo for a two-base error. Tyrone Taylor kept the ground-pounding going with a liner between short and third. Unfortunately, the all-too-common offensive woes continued after this brief outburst. Omar Narvaez went down on strikes with runners on first and second with no outs. Mike Brosseau hit a relatively weak fielder’s choice, Tellez out at third. Wong, weak pop-fly to the left, inning over. The rally had ended, but the Brewers exited the top of the seventh, carrying a 2-1 lead. The Brewers were able to flip to cruise control for two innings, handing the seventh to Brad Boxberger and the eighth to Devin Williams, neither of which relinquished a hit and had clean innings. Sam Howard took the ball for the top of the ninth for the Pirates and had no feel for… anything. He faced leadoff hitter Rowdy Tellez, whom he promptly hit in the right arm. He walked Narvaez and then walked Brosseau, loading the bases. Kolten Wong was up, ready to extend the Brewers’ lead, which he did… by, you guessed it, walking in a run. It required a questionable check-swing call against Andrew McCutchen for Howard to get out of the inning finally, somehow allowing only one run. I want to say Josh Hader came in, closed the game, grabbed the save, and everyone went home four minutes later, but Hader uncharacteristically struggled with control as well. After a borderline ball four call Ke'Bryan Hayes, Hader continued to run up an excessive pitch count while striking out Dan Vogelbach, Michael Chavis, and Tsutsugo to end the game. A win is a win, but Hader is almost certainly unavailable to close the series after throwing 26 pitches to get through a single inning of work and tomorrow's early lunch-time start. The Crew goes for the sweep on the road with an 11:35 CST start time. Freddy Peralta (RHP) goes against Jose Quintana (LHP).
  18. It was a sight we’ve seen all too many times this season across baseball - bad weather, weak bats, fielders standing where the ball is hit - but the Brewers did what they’ve done all season; they scored just enough runs to win while they leaned on their pitching staff to hold onto that lead late. It says something about modern baseball: a game with dual no-hitters going through six innings still required 3:01 to complete in front of a sparsely-attended PNC Park on a cold night in Pittsburgh. Brewers 3, Pirates 1 W: Trevor Gott (1-0) L: Wil Crowe (1-1) S: Josh Hader (10) After a wild 12-8 Brewers win the night before that saw Craig Counsell use five pitchers, he needed a quiet night from young lefty Aaron Ashby, which he received if you only look at runs scored. Ashby struggled with command but was ultimately effective, pitching 5.2 innings while only allowing a single hit and issuing five walks. Opposing Ashby, the Pirates used Dillon Peters as a two-inning opener, followed by Bryse Wilson filling the traditional starter role with a four-inning start. I feel like this isn’t something we’re seeing nearly as often this season after openers became trendy in 2020 and 2021, and I’m entirely okay with that being the case. We need baseball to look more like it was 30 years ago, not less. Through the first two-thirds of the game, the Brewer and Pirate pitching staffs tossed zeroes at each other, allowing no hits until Bryan Reynolds singled on a grounder to Willy Adames with two outs in the sixth. While it may appear the pitching staff of both teams was dialed in, watching the game gave a far different impression as the Brewers walked seven while the Pirates walked four. And the lack of hits was often the result of luck on both sides, not dominant pitching. Before Kolten Wong doubled hard to right field in the sixth for the first Brewer hit, Brewer hitters had made contact on balls with the resulting xBA (expected Batting Average): 930, .670, .550, .420, .480. The number of actual hits? Zero. Thankfully, things finally started to roll in the top of the seventh, with the Pirates holding a 1-0 lead after a shaky fifth inning from Ashby, which saw him exit with two outs in the sixth. Leading off the inning, Christian Yelich pulled a 105.9 mph ground ball past the first baseman against Pirate reliever Wil Crowe. Hunter Renfroe quickly blooped a single to right-center, with Yelich taking third. The Pirates continued their Bad News Bears routine as Tellez smashed a ground ball under the glove of first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo for a two-base error. Tyrone Taylor kept the ground-pounding going with a liner between short and third. Unfortunately, the all-too-common offensive woes continued after this brief outburst. Omar Narvaez went down on strikes with runners on first and second with no outs. Mike Brosseau hit a relatively weak fielder’s choice, Tellez out at third. Wong, weak pop-fly to the left, inning over. The rally had ended, but the Brewers exited the top of the seventh, carrying a 2-1 lead. The Brewers were able to flip to cruise control for two innings, handing the seventh to Brad Boxberger and the eighth to Devin Williams, neither of which relinquished a hit and had clean innings. Sam Howard took the ball for the top of the ninth for the Pirates and had no feel for… anything. He faced leadoff hitter Rowdy Tellez, whom he promptly hit in the right arm. He walked Narvaez and then walked Brosseau, loading the bases. Kolten Wong was up, ready to extend the Brewers’ lead, which he did… by, you guessed it, walking in a run. It required a questionable check-swing call against Andrew McCutchen for Howard to get out of the inning finally, somehow allowing only one run. I want to say Josh Hader came in, closed the game, grabbed the save, and everyone went home four minutes later, but Hader uncharacteristically struggled with control as well. After a borderline ball four call Ke'Bryan Hayes, Hader continued to run up an excessive pitch count while striking out Dan Vogelbach, Michael Chavis, and Tsutsugo to end the game. A win is a win, but Hader is almost certainly unavailable to close the series after throwing 26 pitches to get through a single inning of work and tomorrow's early lunch-time start. The Crew goes for the sweep on the road with an 11:35 CST start time. Freddy Peralta (RHP) goes against Jose Quintana (LHP). View full article
  19. When Milwaukee acquired Renfroe for Jackie Bradley, Jr. and a couple of prospects, fans were happy to be rid of Bradley, Jr.’s gaudy contract. But giving up two of the Brewers' top-20 prospects signals that management expects Renfroe to be a consistent contributor. His career line versus left-handed pitching speaks for itself: .263 average, .347 OBP, .557 SLG, 904 OPS, .375 wOBA, 137 wRC+. The last stat, wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), better represents a hitter’s offensive value where each point above 100 is equal to one percentage point above league average. Thus, Renfroe is 37% better than league average against lefties in his career. Suffice to say, Renfroe is a proven commodity against southpaws and will help to strengthen the Brewers’ 2021 weakness. The problem is that Milwaukee will likely see far more right-handed starters as they did last year (123 righty-handed starters faced). It’s not as though the 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound outfielder can’t do anything against righties. In his past two full seasons – 2019 and 2021 – he blasted 33 and 31 homers, respectively. Of Renfroe’s 31 HR a year ago, 20 of them came off righties. He has always had respectable power against right-handers (.459 career SLG); the problem lies in the rest of his “production” facing righties in his career. The long ball potential is tempting to utilize, while the strikeout rate (K%) of 29.5% can be frustrating. This could mean that Renfroe is put in the starting lineup based on additional matchup factors (e.g., pitcher type, pitch movement, velocity) when they see a right-handed starter. It also could open the door for 28-year-old Tyrone Taylor to see more time in the starting lineup and pick up more at-bats. Some believe Taylor deserves an extended, more consistent opportunity to produce. Taylor has just 324 total MLB plate appearances (271 last season), posting a slash line of .251/.324/.467/.791. Sure, solid stats, but many players get exposed the more often they bat. On the flip side, you never really know how good they are until they get that real shot. When we look at Taylor’s numbers versus righties specifically, they become less impressive, albeit in just 216 plate appearances. Take a look at Taylor’s stats against right-handers. While the numbers don’t jump off the page, they are better than Renfroe’s in 1,200 fewer times to the dish. Taylor and Renfroe could also be battling with veteran newcomer Andrew McCutchen for at-bats. The challenge in figuring out McCutchen’s value versus right-handers is deciding how much to factor in his early-career stats compared to his more recent production. The 35-year-old owns an .816 OPS against same-sided hurlers in his career but had a mere .650 OPS and .683 OPS the past two seasons. The Brewers will likely give him chances early on, and the results will dictate the plan moving forward. Going back to Renfroe, it is a little tough to figure out the size and scope of his role, particularly when the Brewers see a right-handed starter. The grass looks a bit greener when you dig deeper into the numbers. Everything goes up when peeking at his stats against right-handed starters only (not including right-handed relievers). His last two full seasons look particularly enticing (though he won't ever be a high-OBP hitter). While it covers two separate seasons – and avoids the strange 2020 campaign – he accumulated those stats over 668 plate appearances. That basically amounts to a full year in terms of sample size. Did he discover something in 2019? Was he better at game planning against right-handed starters? Is it just a fluke? Hard to say but intriguing nonetheless. Of course, that leads one to check on Taylor’s production against right-handed starters in his three years. Taylor has 459 fewer plate appearances with this split, with only nine in 2019 and 17 in 2020. Taylor sports the far better OBP with a lower slugging percentage. How you judge his smaller sample size is up for debate. Well, it’s really up to manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers staff to figure that out. Another item for Counsell to consider will be how often he pinch hits for Renfroe (or Taylor) when opponents bring in a right-handed reliever. Since their stats against same-side starters are better than their overall righty splits, it means they struggle more against bullpen arms from that side. Will Counsell sub out his possible fourth or fifth hitter in a big situation? The numbers say he should, but other factors outside of right/lefty splits come into play. One final detail to keep in mind is that Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will need days off. Whether due to injury or load management, rest for those veterans should open up more playing time for Renfroe throughout the season. Ultimately, one would think that Renfroe's production and the impact it has on the Brewers scoring runs will make the picture clearer in the first couple of months. So if you were managing the Milwaukee Brewers, what percentage of starts versus right-handed pitchers would you give Renfroe in 2022?
  20. Pitching results are like the points on Whose Line, and they don’t matter Starting with the concerning results of well-established pitchers - take a deep breath. These guys have a spot on the roster, and they’re not fighting to prove anything to the front office or dugout. They have the luxury of taking the mound and focusing on small things, such as executing a specific pitch to a specific location. They’re looking for live-action reps of particular things; sequencing be damned. This is true of all pitchers, but it is especially true of established players. As we move closer and closer to opening day, the box scores and pitching lines will matter more. They’re not the end-all, but players will be working to higher pitch counts and starting to round into regular-season form. As players transition toward games that matter, the gameplay starts to shift. Established guys will start sequencing more pitches, building a repertoire and trust with their catchers. Big league hitters will be consistently in more lineups every day, and pitchers will start facing higher-level hitters more often. Batters have goals, too Early spring results in the batter's box aren’t as laissez-faire as a pitching line, but they should still be taken with a grain of salt. Putting up good results is better than failing to produce, but the batters also work on specific parts of their game. Keston Hiura has been written about by Kyle Lobner, but he’s not the only Brewer with thunder in his bat. Tyrone Taylor is the early spring darling, crushing three no-doubt home runs in fifteen at-bats during his six appearances. Surely, this is promising? As above, so below: it’s better to post a 1.577 OPS than the .586 Lorenzo Cain currently has. Insider scoop, Lorenzo Cain is still your starter. Taylor is showing the ability to punish mistake pitches thrown by regular players, but he is not doing this against regular-season Logan Webb. Mentioned earlier, pitchers are working on specific goals early in the spring, not necessarily getting Taylor out. This spring, his most significant successes have also come against unproven arms trying to make their way to more consistent major league playing time. The good news is that Taylor is likely to get his at-bats against the bottom half of the rotation starting pitchers and pinch-hit opportunities specifically chosen for him by Craig Counsell. Pedro Severino is an exciting option at catcher, but he will not bat over .400 with an OPS of nearly 1.200. He doesn’t have to, but he is on the short side of the platoon. If he can find success against left-handed pitching, he will fulfill his duties. Much of the same things we noted for Taylor can be applied to Severino, and the takeaway is that he looks good for a player looking to get ABs off the bench and as a right-handed platoon catcher. Different players have different goals, but take it all with a grain of salt Veteran players have different goals than players trying to make the roster, and that’s okay. We don’t know all the details of what the team is working towards with each player, but we can trust they will put their best foot forward. Craig Counsell and David Stearns have put together competitive team after competitive team, and they’re great at interpreting these mixed results from Arizona. Get excited about the regular season, yearn optimistically for the promise of young players to breakthrough, don’t sweat pitchers that struggle early, and dust off your tailgating supplies.
  21. Corbin Burnes debut was clunky, Brandon Woodruff has had a few tough outings, Keston Hiura is smoking the ball, Tyrone Taylor looks like peak Barry Bonds. What is life, and does this mean anything? Pitching results are like the points on Whose Line, and they don’t matter Starting with the concerning results of well-established pitchers - take a deep breath. These guys have a spot on the roster, and they’re not fighting to prove anything to the front office or dugout. They have the luxury of taking the mound and focusing on small things, such as executing a specific pitch to a specific location. They’re looking for live-action reps of particular things; sequencing be damned. This is true of all pitchers, but it is especially true of established players. As we move closer and closer to opening day, the box scores and pitching lines will matter more. They’re not the end-all, but players will be working to higher pitch counts and starting to round into regular-season form. As players transition toward games that matter, the gameplay starts to shift. Established guys will start sequencing more pitches, building a repertoire and trust with their catchers. Big league hitters will be consistently in more lineups every day, and pitchers will start facing higher-level hitters more often. Batters have goals, too Early spring results in the batter's box aren’t as laissez-faire as a pitching line, but they should still be taken with a grain of salt. Putting up good results is better than failing to produce, but the batters also work on specific parts of their game. Keston Hiura has been written about by Kyle Lobner, but he’s not the only Brewer with thunder in his bat. Tyrone Taylor is the early spring darling, crushing three no-doubt home runs in fifteen at-bats during his six appearances. Surely, this is promising? As above, so below: it’s better to post a 1.577 OPS than the .586 Lorenzo Cain currently has. Insider scoop, Lorenzo Cain is still your starter. Taylor is showing the ability to punish mistake pitches thrown by regular players, but he is not doing this against regular-season Logan Webb. Mentioned earlier, pitchers are working on specific goals early in the spring, not necessarily getting Taylor out. This spring, his most significant successes have also come against unproven arms trying to make their way to more consistent major league playing time. The good news is that Taylor is likely to get his at-bats against the bottom half of the rotation starting pitchers and pinch-hit opportunities specifically chosen for him by Craig Counsell. Pedro Severino is an exciting option at catcher, but he will not bat over .400 with an OPS of nearly 1.200. He doesn’t have to, but he is on the short side of the platoon. If he can find success against left-handed pitching, he will fulfill his duties. Much of the same things we noted for Taylor can be applied to Severino, and the takeaway is that he looks good for a player looking to get ABs off the bench and as a right-handed platoon catcher. Different players have different goals, but take it all with a grain of salt Veteran players have different goals than players trying to make the roster, and that’s okay. We don’t know all the details of what the team is working towards with each player, but we can trust they will put their best foot forward. Craig Counsell and David Stearns have put together competitive team after competitive team, and they’re great at interpreting these mixed results from Arizona. Get excited about the regular season, yearn optimistically for the promise of young players to breakthrough, don’t sweat pitchers that struggle early, and dust off your tailgating supplies. View full article
  22. Hunter Renfroe will be a regular in the starting lineup when the Milwaukee Brewers face a left-handed starting pitcher this year. How will he be handled when a righty takes the hill against the Crew? Despite improving his performance against right-handers last season, Renfroe’s production against same-side hurlers raises questions. When Milwaukee acquired Renfroe for Jackie Bradley, Jr. and a couple of prospects, fans were happy to be rid of Bradley, Jr.’s gaudy contract. But giving up two of the Brewers' top-20 prospects signals that management expects Renfroe to be a consistent contributor. His career line versus left-handed pitching speaks for itself: .263 average, .347 OBP, .557 SLG, 904 OPS, .375 wOBA, 137 wRC+. The last stat, wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), better represents a hitter’s offensive value where each point above 100 is equal to one percentage point above league average. Thus, Renfroe is 37% better than league average against lefties in his career. Suffice to say, Renfroe is a proven commodity against southpaws and will help to strengthen the Brewers’ 2021 weakness. The problem is that Milwaukee will likely see far more right-handed starters as they did last year (123 righty-handed starters faced). It’s not as though the 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound outfielder can’t do anything against righties. In his past two full seasons – 2019 and 2021 – he blasted 33 and 31 homers, respectively. Of Renfroe’s 31 HR a year ago, 20 of them came off righties. He has always had respectable power against right-handers (.459 career SLG); the problem lies in the rest of his “production” facing righties in his career. The long ball potential is tempting to utilize, while the strikeout rate (K%) of 29.5% can be frustrating. This could mean that Renfroe is put in the starting lineup based on additional matchup factors (e.g., pitcher type, pitch movement, velocity) when they see a right-handed starter. It also could open the door for 28-year-old Tyrone Taylor to see more time in the starting lineup and pick up more at-bats. Some believe Taylor deserves an extended, more consistent opportunity to produce. Taylor has just 324 total MLB plate appearances (271 last season), posting a slash line of .251/.324/.467/.791. Sure, solid stats, but many players get exposed the more often they bat. On the flip side, you never really know how good they are until they get that real shot. When we look at Taylor’s numbers versus righties specifically, they become less impressive, albeit in just 216 plate appearances. Take a look at Taylor’s stats against right-handers. While the numbers don’t jump off the page, they are better than Renfroe’s in 1,200 fewer times to the dish. Taylor and Renfroe could also be battling with veteran newcomer Andrew McCutchen for at-bats. The challenge in figuring out McCutchen’s value versus right-handers is deciding how much to factor in his early-career stats compared to his more recent production. The 35-year-old owns an .816 OPS against same-sided hurlers in his career but had a mere .650 OPS and .683 OPS the past two seasons. The Brewers will likely give him chances early on, and the results will dictate the plan moving forward. Going back to Renfroe, it is a little tough to figure out the size and scope of his role, particularly when the Brewers see a right-handed starter. The grass looks a bit greener when you dig deeper into the numbers. Everything goes up when peeking at his stats against right-handed starters only (not including right-handed relievers). His last two full seasons look particularly enticing (though he won't ever be a high-OBP hitter). While it covers two separate seasons – and avoids the strange 2020 campaign – he accumulated those stats over 668 plate appearances. That basically amounts to a full year in terms of sample size. Did he discover something in 2019? Was he better at game planning against right-handed starters? Is it just a fluke? Hard to say but intriguing nonetheless. Of course, that leads one to check on Taylor’s production against right-handed starters in his three years. Taylor has 459 fewer plate appearances with this split, with only nine in 2019 and 17 in 2020. Taylor sports the far better OBP with a lower slugging percentage. How you judge his smaller sample size is up for debate. Well, it’s really up to manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers staff to figure that out. Another item for Counsell to consider will be how often he pinch hits for Renfroe (or Taylor) when opponents bring in a right-handed reliever. Since their stats against same-side starters are better than their overall righty splits, it means they struggle more against bullpen arms from that side. Will Counsell sub out his possible fourth or fifth hitter in a big situation? The numbers say he should, but other factors outside of right/lefty splits come into play. One final detail to keep in mind is that Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will need days off. Whether due to injury or load management, rest for those veterans should open up more playing time for Renfroe throughout the season. Ultimately, one would think that Renfroe's production and the impact it has on the Brewers scoring runs will make the picture clearer in the first couple of months. So if you were managing the Milwaukee Brewers, what percentage of starts versus right-handed pitchers would you give Renfroe in 2022? View full article
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