The community survey got 36 responses -- there's some interesting deeper stuff I may get into in a subsequent post, but first this point will have the overall descriptive results. Coding the grades A through F numerically as 2 through -2 (so a C was zero, representing the player being right on expectations), the grand mean for the entire team was 0.02. By that measure, the team is pretty close to what we expeted. However, it doesn't make much sense to treat Neil Ramirez's brief layover at MKE the same as Jonathan Villar's 369 plate appearances. If we weight the average by plate appearances for position players and batters faced for pitchers, the weighted grand mean comes out to 0.40. Pretty decent! That's essentially a high C, since I assigned letter grades to each player based on the numerical average, putting cut-points at the halves (e.g., 1.5 and above is an A, 0.5 to 1.5 is a B, etc.). If the mode (that's the most frequently occurring grade, for the English majors in the room) was higher or lower than the grade based on the mean, they got a plus or a minus. And now, the grades!
A: Junior Guerra (highest overall mean at 2.00 – all As!), Aaron Hill, Jonathan Villar (most positive contribution to weighted mean)
I assume Kyle did not submit grades, because he expected Guerra's success, and thus should've given him a C. Instead, Junior got all As, the only one to do so in either this year's or last year's survey. Similarly, Aaron Hill's performance rightly shocked pretty much everyone, after he was described as simply the price the Brewers had to pay to get Isan Diaz. Owing to his team-leading 369 plate appearances, and to his grades including only two Bs and one C, Villar made the largest positive contribution to the team's overall weighted mean. Originally seen as a placeholder, he's made himself into a near All-Star and is largely responsible for keeping Orlando Arcia angry in Colorado Springs.
B+: Jonathan Lucroy
I suspect Luc got a B+ instead of an A because there was a wide range of expectations for him this year. If you think 2015 was an anomaly, he seems like he's basically on his trend; if 2015 made you think less of him, his 2016 is an incredible turnaround. He only got one C, and all the other grades split almost evenly between Bs and As.
B: Jacob Barnes, Blaine Boyer, Ryan Braun, Chris Carter, Zach Davies, Scooter Gennett, Jeremy Jeffress, Jhan Mariñez, Tyler Thornburg, Carlos Torres
We really start to see a divergence here between 2015 and 2016 grades. Last year's anonymous relievers tended to put up more anonymous performances and landed in the C group. This year, Barnes, Boyer, Mariñez, and Torres have all performed surprisingly well, which makes the idea of trading away Jeffress and Smith potentially less devastating, notwithstanding the solid year Jeffress has put up as the "closer."
This group also has three regular position players, meaning six are at a B or better. Carter sort of fits the Villar mold, without as much upside -- he was just a guy who could fill a spot, but he's doing a bit better than he's done historically, and also not playing horribly in the field. Braun has put up terrific numbers at the plate again, and Scooter has learned to hit LHP a little bit. We'll see below why these six good guys have not been enough.
Lastly, Davies has had a terrific first full year, and would be the team's top pitching story if not for Guerra. If we graded again at the end of the season, he might be on track to move up to an A.
All the C+ players in the organization are in the minors.
C: Chris Capuano, Jake Elmore, Matt Garza, David Goforth, Martin Maldonado, Will Middlebrooks, Jimmy Nelson, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Hernan Perez, Alex Presley, Yadiel Rivera, Andy Wilkins
A bunch of guys who barely played, plus up-and-down Jimmy, never-hit-before-anyway Kirk, and OK-bench-piece Hernan. That Maldonado got a C with his performance thus far suggests we collectively have no faith in him to ever be any good (last year he got a D+ with similar numbers).
D+: Tyler Cravy, Sam Freeman, Michael Kirkman, Neil Ramirez
Anonymous schmoes who barely played, and yet still managed to disappoint us.
D: Chase Anderson, Michael Blazek, Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores, Corey Knebel, Domingo Santana
Lots of bad outfield and pinch-hit PAs tied up in Broxton, Flores, and the prodigal Sunday.
D-: Ariel Peña, Colin Walsh
Peña: 11 batters faced, 13 Fs. Walsh: How did he manage to grade this high?
F: Taylor Jungmann (tied for lowest overall mean at -1.81), Wily Peralta (tied for lowest overall mean, most negative contribution to weighted mean)
Jungmann had the highest overall average last year at 1.89; now he has a 4.12 ERA with Biloxi. Peralta had the same average, but far more batters faced, making his negative contribution much larger. If Guerra and Davies had been in the rotation to open the season, instead of these two, the Brewers wouldn't be a winning team, but they would be farther away from the first overall draft pick, so #Tank4Hank.