It's been nice these past few articles writing about the Brewers past. From 1978-1982 the Brewers were actually really good. Even the 1983 Brewers weren't a bad team. It seemed like they had a real chance to make the playoffs in pretty much all of those seasons. They just had the unfortunate luck of playing in the toughest division in baseball. Well the good old days are done and it's time to make way for the Brewers inferior.
At the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, a lot of bad things happened. Gandolf died--sort of. Boromir betrayed the group shortly, before immediately redeeming himself, only eat a million arrows. And Frodo realizes he has to leave the group behind to journey into the heart of Mordor, by himself. The bleakness presented in the final 10 minutes of that movie mirrors the feeling I had when I realized just how bad the Brewers were in 1977 and *SPOILER ALERT* the entirety of their existence leading up to 1977.
The '78-'82 Brewers didn't always finish just out of first place. But they did seem to have a large group of talented players and therefore a chance to make the playoffs. While the '77 Brewers weren't devoid of talent--very few teams ever are--but they didn't even come close to sniffing first place. They finished with a 67-95 record, 33 games back of the first place New York Yankees and their 100-62 record. Orioles were second with 97 wins.
Past--although technically from the perspective of 1977 future--Brewers teams had a more above average position players than average or worse. That was the driving force behind their push for the playoffs. This team only had three above average position players: Don Money--4.9 fWAR--Sixto Lezcano--3.6 fWAR--and Sal Bando 3.2 fWAR. Cecil Cooper--2.5 fWAR--and Robin Yount--2.4 fWAR--were the only other position players not below average.
Pitching has never been a strength in Milwaukee, but they usually had one or two above average or better starters. At least during that '78-'82 stretch. In 1977 Larry Sorensen--2.3 fWAR--was their only starter that wasn't below average. This happened to be Sorensen's rookie season. It was also technically Moose Haas' rookie season, though he did make his first major league appearance in 1976.
Thirty-three games back of first place. That far back doesn't happen very often these days because of the reconstructed divisions. Although, the 2015 Brewers finished 32 games back of of the Cardinals. Both were seasons to forget in terms of on-field performance. I don't know what the '77 season did for the Brewers future, but the 2015 season ended up doing a lot to improve the farm system. So in that sense it was a good year.