Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the MLB. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Milwaukee Brewers fans and fans across the country.
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In this week’s Reacts survey, we asked fans two questions: who is the team’s top addition so far this season, and who is the Brewers toughest competition for an NL Central division title?
In the first poll, fans overwhelmingly voted for new backstop William Contreras, with nearly two-thirds (66%) of the total vote. Brian Anderson came in second at 12%, followed by Wade Miley (12%), Owen Miller (7%), and Joel Payamps (3%).
Contreras, who was added via trade from the Braves in the offseason, has had a strong year both offensively and defensively, despite being on a bit of a cold streak at the plate right now. This season, he’s slashing .246/.343/.377 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
After a career year in 2022, Contreras has turned in a 1.1 WAR so far this season, in no small part due to his defensive improvement. After finishing with negative defensive runs saved in each of his first three seasons, he’s at eight defensive runs saved through 29 games at catcher this season. In addition to his improvement as a pitch framer, he’s also improved his caught stealing rate to 44% from just 14% a year ago.
In the second poll, our results showed 86% of fans view the Cardinals as Milwaukee’s biggest competition for the NL Central title, which easily outpaced the Pirates (7%), Cubs (6%), and Reds (1%).
Entering the season, the Cardinals were expected to once again compete for the NL Central title while the Pirates were expected to have at least one more rebuilding year. Through a month and a half of the season, the exact opposite has been the case.
The Pirates currently sit in second place just a game behind Milwaukee for the NL Central lead, while the Cardinals sit in last place six games behind the Crew. However, the Pirates and Cardinals are trending in different directions.
Pittsburgh has gone 3-11 in the month of May while St. Louis is 9-7, although they’re 9-2 since losing the first five games of the month.
Given those trends and the fact that the Cardinals just took two of three from the Brewers, it comes as no surprise that they’re viewed as Milwaukee’s toughest competition in 2023.