2013 Team Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

Joe Robbins

The Brewers were unable to overcome the loss of Prince Fielder and the veteran starting pitching last season. Will the young starting pitching rise up to get Milwaukee back into contention?

Notable Numbers

61: The numbers of starts made by pitchers with less than 10 career starts before last season. Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers each had over 20 starts last year, sporting sub-3.50 FIPs, while Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta had a handful of above-average starts. With veterans Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Randy Wolf gone, these young pitchers, along with ace Yovani Gallardo, will be carrying much of the pitching burden this season.

33.6: The number of fWAR compiled by the Brewers’ position players last year, second behind the Angels. While Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez were stars, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez also had breakout seasons. Corey Hart and big-time bargain Norichika Aoki also provided about three wins during the season, a very nice core. Aside from Hart being injured the first two months, this whole group is back, hoping to repeat a good offensive season.

2012 Season in Review:

Aside from a 24-6 run in August and September, the Brewers weren’t able to put together any consistent runs during the season, ending in 3rd place with an 83-79 record. The bullpen imploded and the veteran starting pitchers got hurt or suffered in performance.

Key Offseason Moves:

Signed Kyle Lohse to a 3-year, $33M contract: Uneasy about the poor performance of the young rotation members this spring, the Brewers gave up their 17th overall pick to sign one of the luckiest pitchers in the league last season. He should throw strikes and eat innings, but anything more than that is unlikely to happen on a consistent basis.

Signed Carlos Gomez to 3-year, $24M extension: The enigmatic centerfielder finally showed average results at the plate, though nearly all of the improvement came from his increased power. If he continues to play a good CF, he should be worth the money.

Signed Mike Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, and traded for Burke Badenhop: This shows the lack of activity by the Brewers this winter before yesterday, as these three relievers were the biggest acquisitions for the organization. None of these guys are game changers, but they should provide some stability to the early part of the bullpen.

Depth Chart:

It looks to be a fairly shallow bench for the Brewers this year. Mat Gamel blew out his knee again this spring, ending his season. Martin Maldonado had a nice season as the backup catcher, but there are no signs of him sustaining such success. Taylor Green and Logan Schafer are decent left-handed bats off the bench, still with little or no right-handed reserves.

Check out the Brewers 2013 Depth Chart at MLB Depth Charts.

2013 Outlook:

The solid core of position players should have another good season, something that hasn't been a problem for many years. The young pitching has seen success on the major league level, but it's unlikely that all of them can live up to expectations. They will likely finish 3rd behind Cincinnati and St. Louis.

Check out the Brewers 2013 ZiPS projections at FanGraphs.

Bold Prediction:

Aramis Ramirez will see his wRC+ drop by at least 30 points and his UZR drop 10 runs. Higher flyball rates tend to lead to below-average BABIPs, and his 50 doubles were easily a career-high. His Contact% also dropped, so a 13% K rate will be tough to sustain, even with a very high Swing%. His defense also rated much higher than previous years, his first positive rating since ’07. Turning 35 in June, I see a drop bound to occur very soon.

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