Here we go with our 2018 season! The Milwaukee Brewers have finished ten ballgames already, and with a 7-2-1 record mere percentage points out of first place in the Cactus League standings (the Cubs are 6-1, with their only loss coming to the Brew Crew).
Milwaukee isn’t tearing the cover off the ball; they have just seven homers and have allowed thirteen. But they have five triples! However, they are tenth in all of baseball in OPS at .803, come in at fourth in OBP (.371). They’re still striking out too much, but so far rank tenth in the majors in numbers of K’s - and that’s a huge improvement. And they are second to the Yankees in walks for the early Cactus Cup race.
On the mound they come in thirteenth in WHIP at 1.39, sixth in ERA (3.44), and have struck out the fifth most batters (91 in 89 innings).
None of this means much, of course, but it’s better than not performing well in these categories. And they have been very adept at scoring unearned runs.
TOP HITTING STORY: I’m skipping over Nick Franklin to highlight phenom Keston Hiura (#Hiura2b), who is quickly making it unnecessary to add anybody else to the roster for the second base position. He leads all hitters with ten or more plate appearances with a batting average of .467, and finishes his slash with a .500 OBP and a slugging average of .533, which adds up to an OPS of 1.033. Unfortunately he has already committed two errors at second base, but Mauricio Dubon has doubled that and he’s a slick fielding shortstop, right? Well, maybe another season in the minors wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Honorable Mention: Hopefully Orlando Arcia is getting his outs out of the way early this spring. He has but one single in his fourteen at bats, for a slash of .071/.071/.071, OPS of .143. All of that will vanish on opening day, of course, and with Dubon not exactly sparkling in the field, he’s safe. Although Dubon is hitting .308 with an OBP of .444...nah, the job is Lando’s.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Let’s look at the starting pitching candidates beyond Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Jhoulys Chacin. I’ll give you innings pitched, WHIP, and ERA. A bit early, and I know these aren’t the best measurements, but with everyone on such a small sample size, it’s as meaningful as anything. Junior Guerra has gone six innings with a WHIP of 1.50 and an ERA of 1.50. Wade Miley has worked 4.1 innings, posting a 0.92 WHIP while putting up an ERA of zilch. Brent Suter has gone four innings and allowed just a walk - WHIP of 0.25, ERA of nada. Aaron Wilkerson has put in 4 innings and has a 0.75 WHIP, 2.25 ERA. Brandon Woodruff has struggled...3.2 innings, 2.73 WHIP, and 12.27 ERA. Yovani Gallardo has only worked 2.2 innings with a WHIP of 1.88, ERA of 3.38.
Has anything been decided? Of course not. But we could see two lefties in the rotation to start the year, which would stand Brewer tradition on it’s head.
Honorable Mention: Matt Albers, Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes, Josh Hader, and Corey Knebel - probably the core of the bullpen - have worked a grand total of 5 innings. They have given up just three hits and two runs. The Brewers are looking at the options for filling out the pen: Taylor Williams has worked three innings with a WHIP of 0, ERA of 0, five strikeouts, and he is throwing hard. Boone Logan has a lock on a spot, but his one inning (yesterday) was a rather poor one. Oliver Drake has gone three largely ineffective innings. Ernesto Frieri has been out for 2.2 innings. Still work to be done here.
IMHO: I would still like another starting pitcher added but it is beginning to look like this group of starters are all the Brewers will have to choose from - and maybe that will be OK. Or it might blow up in their face. It seems from our early results that David Stearns has gambled well in not over-paying for a free agent starter. With the need not seeming so great, the team won’t be inclined to panic and sign somebody over their value. We’ll see what the situation looks like in another week, though, won’t we?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: In a discussion of whether BA as a percentage of OBP was a good indicator of how good a player was at driving in runs, Duhawk Steve delved into what would actually be a good indicator. His conclusions are summarized below; it appears that ISO (basically a measurement of how often a batter hits for extra bases) is best:
Nope, nothing changed
I did a separate correlation for 5 quinitiles separated out by OBP. For the best on base guys, to the worst on base guys, the rusults held the same. AVG/OBP had r-squared around .1, wOBA around .4 and ISO around .5.
BA as a percentage of OBP does not indicate a players ability to drive in runs. wOBA is a pretty good indicator, ISO is a better indicator.
Or we could continue to rely on the generosity of opposing defenses.
Dang it, the Brewers can’t let the Cubs take the Cactus Cup. They’d probably just hide it behind that dumb World Series trophy they got. See you next week!
Statistics courtesy of MLB.com