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Imagining a 2017 Season Where All the Milwaukee Brewers Hit Their Ceilings

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Everyone has a chance on Opening Day!

Chicago White Sox v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

No one seems to believe the Milwaukee Brewers will be very good this season. Sure, some outlets have them pegged to finish as high as third in the National League Central, but no one has them projected for a playoff berth or even a winning record in 2017.

Today, however, is Opening Day. Everyone is still in the race on the first day of the season and we are allowed to dream about the "what if" scenarios that could propel our local nine to the postseason. As Mr. Baseball himself, Bob Uecker, has often said during his career in the booth: "Hope springs attorney!" So what if instead of winning 70-something games like the projections have spit out, everyone that made the 25 man Opening Day roster stays healthy all year long and plays to their absolute highest potential? Let’s find out, using Baseball Prospectus’ 90th percentile projections from PECOTA!

Starting Lineup

2B Jonathan Villar 669 PA .279/.352/.443 18 HR 57 SB 3.4 WARP
1B Eric Thames 645 PA .278/.344/.464 22 HR 9 SB 2.5 WARP
LF Ryan Braun 641 PA .306/.376/.541 32 HR 20 SB 5.1 WARP
3B Travis Shaw 605 PA .276/.345/.482 25 HR 4 SB 4.3 WARP
RF Domingo Santana 538 PA .280/.378/.493 23 HR 5 SB 3.7 WARP
CF Keon Broxton 408 PA .267/.362/.480 15 HR 30 SB 3.2 WARP
C Jett Bandy 428 PA .282/.347/.483 18 HR 2 SB 2.5 WARP
SS Orlando Arcia 652 PA .280/.323/.444 18 HR 19 SB 4.5 WARP


Lead by Ryan Braun, the Brewers’ starting lineup looks awfully formidable. Every starter hits at least 15 home runs, four players steal double-digit bases, and only two players have an OPS of less than .800. Eric Thames translates almost seamlessly back to American baseball and clubs 22 home runs, steals 9 bags, and posts an .808 OPS while batting 2nd. The ‘exit velocity kings’ Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton finally put together over a full season what they showed they were capable of in spurts last year. Jonathan Villar takes a small step back from his tremendous season last year but is still quite valuable, and Orlando Arcia makes good on his former prospect hype by breaking out into an All-Star caliber shortstop.

TOTAL WARP: 29.2

Bench

1B Jesus Aguilar 182 PA .284/.363/.516 9 HR 0 SB 1.1 WARP
UTIL Hernan Perez 404 PA .292/.319/.435 9 HR 21 SB 2.3 WARP
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis 236 PA .261/.351/.478 10 HR 5 SB 1.4 WARP
C Manny Pina 131 PA .302/.372/.493 5 HR 0 SB 0.7 WARP


Hernan Perez once again thrives in a super-utilty role for the 90th percentile Brewers, taking over 400 trips to the plate while providing a .754 OPS, 21 steals, and 2.3 WARP. Jesus Aguilar and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both accrue more than 1 win in part-time roles, while Manny Pina plays an admirable backup backstop.

TOTAL WARP: 5.5

Starting Rotation

Junior Guerra 192 IP 177 K 59 BB 3.06 ERA 3.26 DRA 3.8 WARP
Zach Davies 166 IP 141 K 44 BB 3.21 ERA 3.44 DRA 3.0 WARP
Wily Peralta 124 IP 97 K 39 BB 3.40 ERA 3.60 DRA 2.0 WARP
Chase Anderson 155 IP 132 K 47 BB 3.64 ERA 3.86 DRA 2.1 WARP
Jimmy Nelson 161 IP 137 K 58 BB 3.36 ERA 3.56 DRA 2.7 WARP


Junior Guerra carries his performance over and reprises his role as #2017BrewersAce while leading the staff in innings pitched, earned run average, deserved run average, and WARP. Zach Davies continues as a dependable starter and Jimmy Nelson bounces back to be nearly as valuable as Davies, at least in terms of WARP. Chase Anderson and Wily Peralta both serve as roughly league-average starters for the 90th percentile Brew Crew. No starter has an ERA over 4.00.

TOTAL WARP: 13.6

Bullpen

Taylor Jungmann 33 IP 29 K 14 BB 3.18 ERA 3.34 DRA 0.4 WARP
Jhan Marinez 71 IP 56 K 23 BB 3.21 ERA 3.36 DRA 0.9 WARP
Tommy Milone 93 IP 83 K 27 BB 3.76 ERA 3.85 DRA 1.0 WARP
Jared Hughes 73 IP 45 K 22 BB 3.44 ERA 3.62 DRA 1.0 WARP
Jacob Barnes 54 IP 46 K 17 BB 2.95 ERA 3.18 DRA 0.7 WARP
Carlos Torres 70 IP 64 K 22 BB 3.17 ERA 3.32 DRA 0.9 WARP
Corey Knebel 78 IP 79 K 24 BB 2.81 ERA 3.00 DRA 1.2 WARP
Neftali Feliz 83 IP 81 K 25 BB 2.87 ERA 3.07 DRA 1.3 WARP


The Brewers don’t have any real dominant arms in the bullpen, with Neftali Feliz and Corey Knebel as the only arms notching ERAs below 3.00. No one has an ERA above 4.00, however, so the ‘pen should at least be stable, dependable, and not cough up many leads. Tommy Milone has a solid season as a swing-man making some spot starts when needed, and Feliz leads the team with 36 saves at the back-end.

TOTAL WARP: 7.4

Conclusion

According to Fangraphs’ "Unified Replacement Level" principle, a team of all replacement-level players would win a total of 47.7 games during a 162-game regular season. Our 90th percentile Brewers, however, combine for a total of 55.7 WARP from both pitchers and hitters according to PECOTA. We’ll round to the nearest whole number to find the projected number of wins:

48 win + 56 WARP = 104 victories

There you have it folks! If everyone plays to their ceiling, the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers are capable of producing a 104-58 record. That would vault them to the top of the NL Central and into the playoff race. Perhaps the writers and fans were a bit premature in writing off such a talented roster before the season began. David Stearns indicated that this could be the year that the Brewers’ roster takes a step forward in an interview with Baseball America, so don’t hesitate for another minute or you might be too late to place your bets on the Milwaukee Brewers to capture the 2017 World Series Championship!

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus