How would one define the Milwaukee Brewers season in 2013?
Bad? Check. Their 74-88 record certainly wasn’t anything to write home about.
Chaotic? Check. Bud Selig finally dropping the hammer on Ryan Braun certainly helped that. In comparison to the Alex Rodriguez saga, the Selig vs. Braun PED issue was the equivalent of a second grade teacher making a student miss recess to write “I will not chew gum in class anymore” 10 times, but the Braun situation was incredibly chaotic to follow, and it went back to the end of the 2011 season.
So, you’d have to think that 2014 will be less eventful, but will it be better?
Projected 2014 Brewers Offense
|1. Jean Segura||SS||24||R||615||83||10||51||41||.286|
|2. Carlos Gomez||CF||28||R||560||81||22||73||36||.275|
|3. Ryan Braun||LF||30||R||550||89||28||97||17||.291|
|4. Aramis Ramirez||3B||36||R||425||47||13||62||0||.273|
|5. Jonathan Lucroy||C||28||R||510||68||17||76||6||.284|
|6. Scooter Gennett||2B||24||L||435||46||10||44||5||.267|
|7. Khris Davis||LF||26||R||495||60||21||70||7||.265|
|8. Juan Francisco||1B||27||L||360||43||13||50||1||.228|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, Khris Davis
– Segura: On the one hand, I have to expect some regression from a brilliant 2014 season. On the other hand, Jean Segura will have Braun hitting two spots behind him all year, and that will only do good things to his run total. Right now I’m looking at Segura as an upper-middle class man’s Jose Reyes.
The bottom line is that Segura will get you a great SB total, a rock solid to flat out good batting average, what should be a well above respectable run total, and possibly even decent power. The list of shortstops that will give that to is not a long one. You’ll lose RBI production just because he bats at the top of a National League order, but everything else should be above average to great for the shortstop position.
– Gomez: There’s no doubt that 2013 was a career year for Carlos Gomez, but if you look at what he did in 2012, the 2013 season shouldn’t have been a huge surprise.
Clave has already noted this, but Go-Go is one of the best bets in the game to go 20-20 and if he keeps improving at the plate, 30-30 isn’t exactly out of the question. If nothing else, he should be a lot of fun in the May 9 – May 11 series against the New York Yankees should be a lot of fun to watch. After their last meeting went so well, I can’t wait to see what Gomez and Brian McCann have up their sleeves this time.
– Braun: He’s back and I think will be back with very strong. If you just don’t want to have PED guys on your team, I get it. I don’t necessarily think that fantasy baseball players need to take moral stands when filling out their rosters, but that’s your business. Just don’t make the mistake of passing on Ryan Braun but finding it in your heart to roster another guy who’s been suspended. Personally, I think anyone will regret passing on Braun but doing something like that wold be flat out stupid.
– Ramirez: We’ll get to him a little more later. Based on a really good career, Aramis Ramiez has to be considered an option, even if you’d be better served eventually going elsewhere.
– Davis: Based on what we saw last year, there is undeniable power potential, it just needs to be reigned in a bit. If that sounds familiar, it’s because people were saying similar things about Chris Davis before the 2012 and 2013 seasons. I know I’d smile if Chris Davis and Khris Davis had breakout seasons in consecutive years. More on Khris in a bit.
Projected 2014 Brewers Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada, Jim Henderson
– Garza: Back in the NL Central where he already enjoyed success with the Chicago Cubs, look for Matt Garza to regain some of the top form he showed in 2013 before being traded to Texas. I’d say that if he’s one of your fantasy team’s best two pitchers, you’re in trouble, but somewhere in the 3-4 range is a different story. Garza doesn’t necessarily excel in any category, but he’s not likely to struggle in any, either.
– Gallrado: If you’re looking for a good strikeout guy, then Yovani Gallardo is someone that you’ll be targeting. Because of that, he’s fantasy relevant. Just know that you’ll be taking a hit in WHIP, as while the projected 1.30 mark is below average, it would also be his lowest WHIP since 2011. He’s relevant, but tread carefully.
– Lohse: We went over this with our preview of the Chicago Cubs in regards with Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood, but if they weren’t teammates on a team that doesn’t appear to be contending, they’d be pretty good coupling candidates, as their strengths and weaknesses would provide nice balance to your fantasy team if you could bank on more than 20 combined wins.
Similar logic applies to Gallardo and Kyle Lohse. Lohse won’t strike out many hitters, but with a stellar walk rate, has a WHIP of 1.140 over the last three seasons.
– Estrada: A little prone to the long ball, which doesn’t do any good for his ERA. Still, Marco Estrada brings a good mark in both strikeouts and walks, which is not seen from too many pitchers.
Other than the homers, the one thing to be cautious of is that even if he hits the fairly pedestrian projected total of 150 innings, it would be a career high. You’re going to have to budget some missed time in with Estrada. But when he’s out there, I like what he brings to the table.
– Henderson: I’m expecting some regression from Jim Henderson, especially in regards to his WHIP. Still, the strikeouts and saves make him a strong option to be a fantasy closer with room to spare. I wouldn’t plan on him being your top closer, but Henderson can easily be the second or third closer on a championship fantasy team.
- Fantasy Star: Ryan Braun
Because of the deserved bitter taste left in people’s mouths from everything that’s happened since his MVP season of 2011, I’m expecting Ryan Braun to go lower than he probably should in drafts.
As you can see from the projections above, I’m expecting a nice bounce back season from Ryan Braun. If he’s healthy, I still have little reason to believe that he’ll be anything other than a Top-10 fantasy player. That, combined with an expectation that Carlos Gomez will go through some regression, makes this is a pretty easy call.
- Fantasy Bust: Aramis Ramirez
He wasn’t bad when on the field in 2013, but Aramis Ramirez missed 70 games last year. His power also dipped a little bit when he was on the field and too many Brewers emerged as possible middle-of-the-order guys to build around.
Ramirez will be 36 in June and has been in the majors since he was 20, so he’s logged plenty of big league innings. Even if he’s pretty effective when on the field, I’d consider it a win to get more than about 120 games out of him, especially if the Brewers don’t contend.
Look to some of the other top third basemen in the league to fill that position for you.
- Prospect Watch: Hunter Morris
A pitcher like Jimmy Nelson might grab your attention a little bit more than Hunter Morris. But while I do think that Nelson will get some Major League time this year, I’d wait to see how well his control improves before putting him on the roster.
After a stellar 2013 in AA, Morris did struggle a little bit in regards to batting average at AAA, but his power is there. He’s also a left-handed bat, something the Brewers severely lack and plays first base, a position that may otherwise be open to some really good little leaguers in the Milwaukee Metro Area.
Even if he makes the team, I wouldn’t think about rostering Morris if you can’t handle a sub .240 average, because it’s very possible that will happen. But 20 or more homers are also possible from the slugger.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Khris Davis
I really wanted to put Scooter Gennett in this spot, but I think he needs to find a way to get into one of the top two spots of the Brewers order to be a viable fantasy guy, and that’s tough — though not impossible — to imagine. You also have to remember that while he’s gotta be pretty close to the end of the rope, Rickie Weeks is there to potentially suck at-bats away.
Khris Davis has the power to be a viable fantasy option from pretty much anywhere in the lineup. Between the minors and majors last season, he hit 24 homers with 64 RBI in only 125 games played and 379 at-bats. That kind of power translates to more than 30 homers over 500 at-bats.
His Major League average was also 24 points higher than his minor league mark, so big league pitching doesn’t seem to phase him. The Top 5 of the Brewers order can be tough to crack, unless we do get an injury from Ramirez. In that case, I could easily see Davis sliding in behind Ryan Braun and/or Jonathan Lucroy and being in a pretty good RBI position. Remember, Miller Park is made for hitters.
- Final Thoughts
I love this offense, especially with Braun back. They have a great balance of speed and power, and plenty of viable fantasy options.
Unfortunately, the pitching leaves a lot to be desired. That will hurt them in a very competitive NL Central. From a fantasy perspective, you have to be cautious with their pitchers, because they’ll be facing the NL Central more often than not. Heck, they even get the AL East in Interleague Play this year, which isn’t going to do any good for the pitcher’s stats.
But on offense, they have two legitimate 20/20 or even 30/30 candidates in Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez, maybe the most reliable player at a weak SS position in Jean Segura, a Top-5 catcher in Jonathan Lucroy, and a potential diamond in the rough in Khris Davis. You should be heavily scouting the Brewers heading into your drafts.