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2018 #5 Most Valuable Brewer: Jeremy Jeffress

A resurgent year was one of the most important players on the roster

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Jeffress has long been a Milwaukee Brewers fan favorite. Before his 2016 departure in the Jonathan Lucroy trade, the city loved him for his flamethrowing ways, social media presence with fellow ‘pen mate Will Smith, and generally energetic demeanor.

It was hard to imagine getting peek Jeremy Jeffress back when he returned to the team in 2017. He had struggled with the Texas Rangers so badly, it looked like his career was done. Then, he returned to Milwaukee in a player-for-player swap and his career came back to life.

Jeffress was never better than he was in 2018. In 73 games, he pitched to a minute 1.29 ERA, limiting runners to an incredible .530 OPS. He quickly set himself up as one of the Brewers’ key relievers and pitched so well he made it into his first ever All-Star game as a non-closer.

Perhaps most amazing was Jeremy Jeffress’ work cleaning up after other pitchers. He inherited 38 runners on the season and allowed just 8 to score, tied for 10th most stranded runners among relievers in the National League. He likely would have had more had he not been put into a shared closer role during Corey Knebel’s injury and later demotion.

Jeffress did falter some in the postseason. After game 163, we learned that he was dealing with epilepsy that was causing additional issues. I highly doubt the reliever we saw struggle some in the playoffs is the reliever Jeffress is. When looking at his supporting numbers, all statistics point to an elite performance, giving Jeffress a 58.6 DRA-.

In good news, we know the Fireman is back in 2019. Milwaukee picked up his 2019 option. If he continues performing well, we will likely see another year of Jeffress as they have a very team-friendly 2020 option as well.

Statistics courtesy Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus