Coming into this season, it wouldn't have been strange to think that the Brewers might have one of the worst defenses in the Major Leagues. Ryan Braun has, at his best, been average in left field and was moving to a new position.
Khris Davis was bad enough defensively to necessitate Braun's move. Aramis Ramirez has seemingly been on the defensive decline for some time as his age advances further. Mark Reynolds had been one of the worst defensive players in the majors the last couple of seasons. Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett were never hailed as gold glovers.
Really, the Brewers' only strength on defense came up the middle with Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. The rest of the lineup was built for hitting alone, seemingly, though the bench saw an emphasis on glovework.
Today, though, the Brewers' defense is a strength. The team is 4th in the NL in UZR/150 (2.1), first in OOZ (348), and second in total zone total runs saves above average (31). They also have the fifth best fielding percentage.
And, of course, defensive statistics at this point in time should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when it's not even a full years worth of data. Even when it's for a team as a whole. But even despite that, I think the Brewers pass the eye test pretty well.
Mark Reynolds has been so good at first base that some don't want a trade for a first baseman because they would miss Reynolds' defense. Think about that. The guys' defensive values on Fangraphs have gone -29.6, -21.5, -10.4 over the last three years. Now he's one of the best defensive players on the team. Crazy.
In fact, the only starters with lower-than-zero defensive values this year are Jean Segura and Ryan Braun. Lyle Overbay has also been terrible, but that's an even worse sample size than any of the full-time starters.
Well defensive stats may not be the most reliable, I think they are correct in placing Milwaukee as a solidly above-average defensive team. I'm not sure anyone would have expected that when the season started.