The 2017-18 MLB offseason has barely even gotten started, but that hasn’t stopped some analysts from looking ahead to next season. Each year Dan Szymborski, creator of the ZiPS projection system, runs his “State of the Franchise” projections to determine how each team forecasts to perform for the following season with only the players they have under contract. For example, that means the Cubs lose Jake Arrieta, the Dodgers lose Yu Darvish, the Diamondbacks lose JD Martinez, etc. Based on the mean projections from Szymborski’s simulations for 2018, ZiPS believes that the Milwaukee Brewers are in a good spot in comparison to the rest of the National League.
As things stand right now, ZiPS projects the Los Angeles Dodgers to once again be the class of the NL with a 96-66 record. The projections have pegged the Cubs (87-75) and the Nationals (89-73) as the other two divisional winners based on the rosters they currently have in place. But sitting in the first Wild Card spot is our beloved Milwaukee Nine, projected to be the 4th-best team in the National League with a record of 84-78. If ZiPS is to be believed, they’ll be hosting either the Pirates or Rockies (both predicted to finish 82-80) in next year’s play-in game.
ZiPS sees the NL as a relatively weak league on the whole in 2018, pegging only six teams to finish above .500. In the American League, eight teams are projected to finish the year with a winning record, lead by the 92-70 New York Yankees and 90-72 Houston Astros. New York (12.0%) and Houston (11.3%) also have the highest odds in the AL of winning the World Series, while the Dodgers (17.0%) and Nationals (8.5%) have the best chances in the National League. Milwaukee’s 3.7% chance of winning the 2018 World Series ranks as the 9th-highest in baseball, according to the ZiPS projections.
That ZiPS is so fond of the Brewers is a testament to the supreme amount of quality depth that has been accumulated by the Doug Melvin and David Stearns regimes over the past two-and-a-half years since the organizational reset began in 2015. ZiPS seems to think that National League should be pretty wide open in 2018 and the projections believe that the Brewers already have a winning roster in place. With only a little over $61 mil in payroll commitments projected at this point for next season as well as a wealth of prospect depth, an aggressive winter could help push Milwaukee even further towards the top of the National League in 2018.