The Milwaukee Brewers came into 2017 with mediocre expectations at best. At the beginning of the season you could take one look at the team that won just 73 games in 2016 and you’d think it’s going to be another losing year for them. However, the club blew past those expectations on their way to a a record of 86 Wins and 76 Losses, good enough for a second place finish in the NL Central and missing out on the second Wild Card spot by one game. How this happened:
Eric Thames- Fresh out of the Korean Baseball League, expectations weren’t very high for the 31 year old outfielder. Nevertheless he finished the season with 31 home runs and an .877 OPS. Not necessarily the best season of any sort, however he was a key contributor to the clubs offense when he was on the field.
Domingo Santana- Talk about a guy who came out of nowhere. Santana hadn’t hit more than 11 homeruns in a single season before this year (granted he didn’t get a lot of playing time in the past). In his first full season, Santana hit .278 with 30 homeruns and an .875 OPS.
Corey Knebel- Also a player who came out of nowhere… In his first full season on a Major League roster in 2017, Corey finished with a 1.78 ERA in 79 games acquiring 39 saves in the process. He locked down the end of the bullpen for the Brewers in 2017.
Zach Davies- He didn’t have a breakout season necessarily, but he did throw close to 200 innings in 33 starts, being that reliable man who will be ready every 5th day.
Travis Shaw- When you think of a player who needed a change of scenery to get his career on track, Travis Shaw would fit that mold. This man never got many opportunities in Boston and when he did, he didn’t take advantage of them. Coming over to Milwaukee, Shaw has a breakout season hitting .273 with 31 homeruns and 101 RBIs. This guys going to be a key part of the Brewer’s lineup if he can continue this production.
Chase Anderson- In his age 29 season, Anderson pitched his best season of his career winning 12 games in 141.1 innings and striking out 133 batters on his way to a 2.74 ERA.
Now could all of these be flukes? Yes. But they could also be the start of something because most of these guys didn’t play a full season in the Major Leagues with regular playing time before 2017.
Looking forward to 2018:
The Brewers have not stayed shy from actively pursuing opportunities to improve. They see this as the time to go all in and really start to build around the solid core they have. Particularly this past month, they showed the league that they were done rebuilding by trading for Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain all in a matter of a couple days. They have an abundance of outfielders; however having too much talent is a better problem than not enough talent any day of the week.
This team is an improved team. However to be a legit contender they need Jonathon Villar to go back to his 2016 self, Ryan Braun to stay healthy, and pitching. Chase Anderson and Zach Davies would not be the 1 and 2 on any World Series contending team. Whether that be through trade of signing a Yu Darvish or a Lance Lynn along with a relief pitcher, the team needs pitching help to be something special.