This is part six in our all day series discussing the Brewers' first half from every available angle. Our guest this time is Prognostikeggers Commissioner and Director of Fun -JP-.
KL: You're new to the front page, but many of our readers will be relatively familiar with your work in Prognostikeggers. What are some of the best predictions you've seen in the contest so far? What are some of the strangest?
JP: First of all, thanks for making Prognostikeggers a big part of Brew Crew Ball. It's been an interesting ride so far, and we're only three weeks into it. I'll start with the best two predictions I have seen that have actually hit. First, in the series against the Mets, one predictor (philc78) made a call about Gomez robbing a HR over the outfield wall. Second, in the recent series against the Rays, a predictor (tcyoung) called Greinke to not walk a batter but hit a Rays batter. To have that level of control to not walk a batter, yet still hit one, is hard to think about, especially considering that was his first HBP of the year.
There are some standard predictions that I see all the time. Rickie Weeks leadoff HRs are predicted on a daily basis, but I find that to be a boring prediction. I like to see predictions that can be tracked throughout a game, and not over early in the game. There are also the other standard predictions I see each day. There are the standard HR predictions, strikeout and IP calls for pitchers, and other predictions on the standard stats. When teams with volatile managers play the Brewers, ejection predictions become common. There's also a few people each day who try to take a player like Yuniesky Betancourt and use his general ineffectiveness to make a prediction that would be worth another point above the same prediction for another player.
In terms of strange predictions, people do come up with very odd calls. In the first game of this, one person (Dulzy) called for a Kotsay assist to third base. Another person (ddloml) called for an Axford save on 7 pitches. One person (texwestern) has made a few predictions where a specific player's runs scored + runs batted in equals something else. The two calls I find right away are Greinke's runs + RBI = runs allowed, and then Braun's runs + RBI = 5. One last series of predictions came from another poster (MillerParkSouth), who made a few predictions on pitchers with OPS for a game at or above 1.000. That's some of the more unusual predictions, but I expect those to continue to grow as the season continues.
Follow the jump for the rest.
KL: Because you're tracking the results every day, you're probably paying closer attention to the daily Brewer stat lines than many of us. What, in your opinion, has been the toughest thing to predict for the Brewers over the last month?
JP: Talking about hard stats to predict can be a wide question. In terms of Prognostikeggers, I would say hits are tough to predict. In the 20 games since it has started, you're looking at 6-11 hits in an average game. Median is at 8 hits, average is 8.6 hits. The full range on hits is 4-14. That's a very large range to look at. As for runs, 14 games have been in that 3-7 runs range. The median has been at 4 runs in games, with an average of 4.85 runs per game. Outliers are a bit even, three games with 1 run or less and three games with 8 or more. There's also generally not a very strong relationship between hits and runs. You can see games with a lot hits but few runs, and games where runs and hits are almost the same. It's rare to see a game, where runs outnumber hits, and it hasn't happened since Prognostikeggers started.
In terms of the Brewers team as a whole, the bullpen performance has been erratic and disappointing in June. ERA is double of what it was in May (2.61 to 5.22), OPS allowed is 80 points higher (.653 to .739) and K/BB rate is down (3.43 to 2.52) despite a lower BABIP allowed (.318 to .277) and a K rate that is very similar (7.8 to 7.6). The biggest difference has been the home runs allowed. The bullpen allowed 3 HR in May. In June, that number is up to 10 through today. Walks are also up, 23 have been allowed in June, while only 21 were allowed through all of May. Inherited runners have been scoring at a higher rate as well. Of 23 runners inherited in May, only 35% scored (8 of them). In June, that number is at 50% (9 of 18 runners). In fact, since June 16, 6 runners have been inherited in games played, and all 6 have scored. All of those occurred in four blowout losses, but three of the games were still winnable when the inherited runners were allowed to score, and in those cases, essentially ended up putting the games out of reach. (Bullpen stats were pulled from Baseball Reference)
KL: Now it's my turn to put you on the spot: Make a wild bonus prediction for the second half of the 2011 season.
JP: The Brewers set a new record for wins in a season, winning at least 96 games. I'll throw an extra prediction on as well. Braun becomes the second 30-30 player in the history of the Brewers, with at least 35 HR and 35 SB.
Here's why I think they can hit 96 wins. First of all, in the 1982 season (when they had 95 wins), they were essentially at the same point as they are today for an overall record. Let me be clear, I'm not saying they will be better than that team when all is said and done, all I'm saying is the pace is possible. Beyond the Phillies, there's no team in the NL that really scares me, and the Brewers have shown that they can beat them. The Braves also make me worry a little, but the Brewers are done with their season series against them. The Cardinals were struggling before they lost Pujols, and it's been just as bad (if not worse) since then. It's possible that the Brewers could get zero to six games against the Cardinals without him. I've heard early August for his potential return, and the Brewers have two series against the Cardinals to start the month (August 1-3 in Milwaukee, August 9-11 in St. Louis). The only real question in the division I have is if they can start winning against the Reds and keep winning against the Pirates. The home-road split is the other factor, but for what it's worth, they've played .500 on the road starting with the first west-cost trip. The worst trip they have left is a 10-day west coast trip right after the All-Star break. However, if they keep up the home pace and play just .500 on the road, it's definitely obtainable.
As for the Braun prediction, he's already on pace to be the second Brewer in the 30-30 club (30 HR, 30 steals). However, I wasn't bold enough to go to 40-40, so I settled at 35-35. It's still ahead of his pace, but he's hit 35 HR in a season before. Only question is if he can run enough to get to 35 steals.
And now, the lightning round:
Give me one roster move the Brewers should make today. They should get Braddock back on the team, need the LHP back in the bullpen.