Did the Brewers really get better this offseason?


Over the course of the last couple of months, Brewer fans saw a huge roster turnover that resulted in a lower payroll. If you went anywhere on Twitter, many seem very hesitant about the team going into spring training. With big losses in free agency like Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, and Eric Thames, David Stearns found himself searching for payroll friendly players who would continue to make Milwaukee competitive. 

(This specific article is focused on only the hitters/fielders)

Starting off with the catcher position, the loss of Yasmani Grandal to free agency was huge for many. However, David counteracted that with the addition of Omar Navaez who seems to be a great addition to the team. Call it a little bold, but we may have nearly broke even with the loss of Grandal and the addition of Narvaez. Let’s break down the numbers.

C wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Omar Narvaez .345 .460 27.5%
Yasmani Grandal .361 .468 41.8%
Manny Pina .308 .411 29.5%

The only severe drop-off there is between Narvaez and Grandal is the hard hit%. That is however something Miller Park can help out a bit. Despite that 14%, the difference in all of the stats are fairly comparable to the production they were getting out of Grandal in 2019. With the addition of Manny Pina appearing maybe once a series, the Brewers are looking decently good at catcher. Also considering the payroll difference of what the White Sox are paying for a slightly better offensive catcher, I would say the Brewers nearly broke even in this position.

Moving on to arguably this biggest question mark for 2020, first base. With Thames deciding to go to the reigning champs, the Brewers had some shoes to fill. 

1B wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Justin Smoak .323 .406 39.5%
Eric Thames .354 .505 43.8%
Ryan Braun .354 .505 45%

This is where things begin to become interesting. It seems to be a real possibility that Braun might take 50-60% of his at bats at first base. In that case he is putting up nearly identical numbers as Thames was last year. With the addition of Justin Smoak who statistically isn’t as good as the later, he offers a great weapon being a switch hitter. If anything, I do think the Brewers broke even as well at first base. With the addition of Braun’s bat and a switch hitter, it creates a lot more versatility than the left hitter Thames.

Moving onto a position that seems to pretty much be a lock, second base. In the at-bats that Keston was able to put up last year, there seems to be even more excitement to see what he will be able to do in his sophomore year. To prove that, here is the breakdown.

2B wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Keston Hiura .388 .570 50%
Eric Sogard .342 .457 20.1%

It really doesn’t take much discussion to say that Keston is a very special kid, and one that is shown to get better. With the acquisition of Eric Sogard to play second on off days for Hiura, its safe to say this position is definitely getting better in 2020.

Up next is the position that has arguable held the least production in the last couple of years, shortstop. After Orlando Arcia’s decently impressive rookie campaign, it was expected that he would have only gotten better from there. That just hasn’t been the case with Arcia having a major plateau since.

SS wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Luis Urias .294 .326 31.4%
Orlando Arcia .269 .350 30.8%

When news broke of the trade that sent Urias and others to Milwaukee I immediately got very excited. Although he is a second baseman by trade, Counsel and Stearns have pointed at the idea that he may be seeing all or most of his time at shortstop. With a couple year age gap from Arcia (25) and Urias (22), it seems the Brewers are looking for Urias to make the jump that Orlando never did. With the low production this position has brought, any improvement is a move in the right direction. 

Up next is the biggest question mark moving into the season, third base. After the loss of Mike Moustakas to the free agent market a lot of questions were raised on who would take over. Stearns went out and got three viable options, however none which are standouts to the baseball world.

3B wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Jedd Gyorko .318 .250 32.4%
Ryon Healy .308 .456 39.2%
Eric Sogard .342 .457 20.1%
Mike Moustakas .348 .441 40.7%

If I had to put my best guess on who is playing third base I would give it a split between Ryon Healy and Eric Sogard. When looking at Healy the biggest margin of difference with Moustakas is in the wOBA category, but everything else is either better or comparable. Then adding on Sogard who can play everywhere, the third base position seems to have broken even once again without the monster price. 

The last final position group to go over is the outfield. With one of the league’s best players Christian Yelich in our lineup, along with supporters like Lorenzo Cain and newcomer Avisail Gracia, this outfield has potential to be one of the best in the game.

OF wOBA SLG Hard Hit%
Avisail Garcia .334 .464 40.3%
Christian Yelich .442 .671 49.1
Lorenzo Cain .302 .372 42.1%
Ryan Braun .354 .505 45%
Ben Gamel .301 .373 38%

We all already knew Yelich was really good at baseball, and Lorenzo is due for a comeback season after 2019 was filled with injuries. Then you move to Garcia who seems to be entering the prime of his career, add on Braun and Gamel, and this outfield could be lethal. No question the outfield got better this offseason. 

Once again David Stearns and staff have made a team that has either broken even or gotten better positionaly. The most impressive part about it has been doing it on a significant budget. With the predictions I have created based on everyone’s wRC (weighted runs created) this team could very well go 92-70. That most likely would put the Brewers in the race for the ultimate prize, and at the end of the day that is all that matters.


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