On June 22nd the Brewers were tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central. With the Cubs surprising first few months, it looked like Milwaukee would be jockeying back-and-forth with Chicago, and possibly a surging Cincinnati team for the NL Central pennant.
Things changed pretty significantly over the last 2 1/2 weeks, as the Cubs are currently on an 0-11 stretch, and the Reds have been mediocre. Milwaukee currently has a 6 ½ game lead over the Reds for the Central lead, with the Cubs plummeting to fourth place.
Milwaukee has taken advantage of a relatively easy schedule to-date. They have only played 21 games against teams over .500, and are 12-9 in those games, a .571 winning percentage, with a -8 run differential. Compared to other division leaders, the Brewers have a significantly softer schedule; the Astros have played 58 games against teams with winning records and have a ridiculous +122 run differential in those games, the Red Sox have played 48 games with a +9 run differential.
So far this season, first base has been a black hole for Milwaukee, with the position yielding a pathetic slash line of .202/.298/.357. A revolving door of less-than-stellar players including Jace Peterson, BIlly McKinney, Daniel Vogelbach, Travis Shaw, and Keston Hiura (all of whom have logged some time at first base) has been abysmal. The group has hit more like a catcher or light-hitting shortstop than players at a power position, and it’s a clear hole for Milwaukee.
First base in Milwaukee looked like a clear place for an upgrade heading into the trade deadline.
This past Tuesday the Brewers traded for Blue Jays’ first baseman and designated hitter Rowdy Tellez, who remarkably has been as-bad-or-worse than all the aforementioned first basemen for Milwaukee so far this season.
Tellez has only played 50 games of Toronto’s 83,and has a 65 wRC+. He only has nine extra base hits this season, and has a .209/.272/.338 slash line. He’s basically served as a bench player the last few weeks because a) the Jays don’t really have a spot for him, with Vlad Guerrero Jr. playing first and better hitters available for the DH slot, which has been rotated among other sluggers like George Springer and Bo Bichette (among others).
The Brewers are well-positioned going into the trade deadline, and they have a near-90 percent change to make the playoffs and an 85 percent change to win the Central. That said, they are probably the third or fourth best team in the National League right now, and would likely be underdogs in any short series against any of the other National League playoff hopefuls.
The Brewers need an upgrade at first base going into the second half. Rowdy Tellez is not the answer.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano