In 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers under the leadership of owner Mark Attanasio hired David Stearns as the new General Manager. Stearns, a 31 year old from Manhattan is not your typical “career baseball guy.” He never played professional baseball, let alone at the collegiate level. The young GM went to Harvard University and graduated with a degree in Political Science in 2007. Despite what one would typically expect from a man with his suggested political career path, Stearns chose to intern with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization while at Harvard, and went on to the work at the MLB Central Office. Stearns, a huge baseball fan decided to pursue his passions through what he learned in his major, as well as by applying techniques that were not so commonly used in Major League Baseball with an increased emphasis on data analytics. In a move out of Moneyball, David Stearns has already orchestrated a number of controversial moves for one purpose, to increase the opportunity of winning.
When looking at the Milwaukee Brewers of 2015 and prior, many familiar faces remained from a team that went to the playoffs in 2011. Unfortunately, 2011 was 4 years ago at this point, and Stearns recognized the Brewers could no longer reload, but had to rebuild from the ground up. This was largely due to a farm system that was near dead last in the majors, and a team that while good, never had the potential to be great. With an aging lineup of ballplayers such as Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez, there was not enough room to improve. There was no major support coming from the farm system in the near future. This is why Stearns took it upon himself to overhaul the roster and replace more than half of the 40-man roster of 2015 by 2016. He also replaced 5 of the 7 assistant coaches for a complete rejuvenation of the roster and staff. With this replacement of players came a surge to the top of the power rankings in terms of minor league systems according to various reporting sites.
Stearns, who had already worked as an assistant manager of the Houston Astros from 2012 until his arrival in Milwaukee, had used similar methods of selling “average” players at their peaks for a bevy of prospects. During his time at Houston, he helped turned them into a contender that now has several of the brightest young names in baseball largely because of a very strong minor league system. His new approach in Milwaukee and decision for a complete rebuild has already been paying dividends. Despite fears over declining fan attendance due to a lack of name recognition among players, the Brewers are currently above .500 and competing in the NL Central even with a difficult opening schedule. As long as your team is winning and competitive, the name on the back of the jersey truly doesn’t matter when it comes down to it, and soon the names of these minor leaguers will become household names. Stearns’ approach is already paying dividends in this regard. Players recently acquired and called up from the minors such, as Jonathan Villar, Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia are already becoming fan favorites. The future of the Milwaukee Brewers looks bright, and with other additional signings such as Eric Thames from Korea, the Brewers are producing at a level much higher than expected.
While many fans were upset about losing a number of their favorite players for no-name teenagers, they will soon realize just how good the Brewers will be because of a loaded minor league system that only looks to improve under Stearns’ leadership. Stearns, an incredibly young manager is already looking like a Theo Epstein, another young genius who has already won the Red Sox and Cubs the World Series. Both from backgrounds not directly related to baseball, their passion and approach through statistics and analysis have helped them to revolutionize the way business is done in baseball.