Today begins the 2021 Championship Season, and according to most projections the Milwaukee Brewers should be in the thick of playoff contention once again throughout the regular season as they look to make a fourth consecutive postseason berth. No one knows yet exactly how the season will shake out, but the Brew Crew Ball staff have made the following bold predictions about this year’s iteration of the Brewers:
Lindsey_Loberg: Keston Hiura has a 30 home run season
After an outstanding debut season in 2019, Keston Hiura slumped dramatically across a shortened 2020, striking out as often as virtually any player in the league and dropping dramatically in terms of advanced metrics like hard contact rate and average exit velocity. Hiura struggled in the beginning of spring training, but settled in during the later half of Cactus League play. Ideally, in 2021. Hiura will settle in at first. Relieved of the defensive pressures of a middle infield position, he’ll focus on making adjustments and returning to form at the plate. With more frequent and solid contact, Hiura can provide power reminiscent of 2019 and typical of 1B.
-JP-: Christian Yelich is back in the top 3 for the MVP vote
2020 was not kind to Christian Yelich. After finishing as the NL MVP in 2018 and runner up in 2019, the 2020 season brought him down. In the shortened season, he only had a batting line of .203/.356/.430. He did post a wRC+ of 113, so he was still above average, but overall it was a step backward for him. As 2021 begins, the Brewers could use the MVP level Christian Yelich again. A normal season should help him get back there, and the early results are promising. In 14 spring games, he went 11-for-28 with 6 walks and 3 home runs. It’s not much of a stretch to see Yelich being the Brewers leader on offense again this season. However, a full return to MVP form can make the Brewers one of the top teams in the National League.
David Gibson: A Pennant
I get to use my timeless ticket for Game 4 of the World Series, as Milwaukee shocks the world on their way to a World Series victory. Strong defense and pitching coupled with the offensive resurgence of the positional player group lead the way. A couple of savvy deadline trades put the Brew Crew over the top, and the ball finally bounces our way for once.
Jaymes L: Kolten Wong will have an even bigger impact offensively than he will defensively for the Brewers
Most of the focus was on Wong’s defense when the Brewers signed him, and for good reason — the team is going from one of the worst defensive second basemen in the league to one of the best. That alone should provide a couple extra wins over the course of a full season. But the fact the Brewers are “replacing” Keston Hiura without losing his bat from the lineup is also a plus. Think of it this way — the Brewers are effectively replacing the black hole that was Justin Smoak and the other rotating cast of characters at first base last year with Wong’s still above-average bat. Not only does Wong’s style of hitting play well at American Family Field, he’s going from one of the worst hitter’s parks in the league to one of the best, meaning there’s a good chance we’ll see his extra base hits total climb while also adding an on-base machine ahead of Hiura and Christian Yelich in the lineup.
Kyle Lesniewski: The return of Ryan Braun
We know that Braun doesn’t particularly care for playing much in Spring Training, and the cold weather games of the early season in the NL Central probably aren’t very good for his balky back. But once the weather starts to heat up, so too could “Ryan Braun Watch.” The former face of the franchise has danced around saying that he’s officially retired, but has said that if he does return for a final season in 2021, that he would only do it for the Brewers. He’s 37 hits short of 2,000 for his career and posted a 14th-consecutive season with an OPS+ over 100 in 2020. He deserves a send-off in front of the fans, and one last chance at a playoff run and World Series ring. Wouldn’t it just be the best if Ryan Braun was the midseason addition that pushes the offense over the top?