Brewers First Half Report Card

The Brewers have just finished their 81st game, a rain-soaked 9-8 loss in St. Louis. They have a 35-46 record, which is a little better than what some of the experts thought and a little worse than what I expected. Many experts predicted a 100-loss season which would translate to a 31-50 record at this point. I predicted 74-76 wins, or 37-38 wins now.

Even though their record does not project them winning as many as I thought they would, they are playing better than I anticipated. The starting pitching has come around and they have played some pretty close games against some pretty good teams.

They are 11 games under .500, but how has the team done in each area? I will break it down for you.

Starting Pitching: D

The Brewers’ starting rotation is not what they expected it to be. Opening Day starter Wily Peralta has been sent down to AAA Colorado Springs and is struggling there. Taylor Jungmann, once considered to be one of the top Brewer pitching prospects, was also sent down. He is currently struggling in AA Biloxi.

The Brewers starters got off to a horrible start. They had a record of 5-15 with a 6.32 ERA and were averaging just under 5 innings per start. Jimmy Nelson was the only pitcher having much success in the first month of the season.

Since May 1, the Brewer starters are 19-19 and have brought their ERA down to 4.85. They are up to 5.5 innings per start and are no longer last in the league. A big part of that has been the emergence of 31-year-old rookie Junior Guerra. Guerra is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA and is averaging 6.3 innings per start.

The Brewers are still last in the National League with 29 quality starts. They are 11th in runs allowed per game and innings per start. They have improved, but they are still near the bottom in most stats.

Relief Pitching: B-

The Brewer relievers are 11-12 with 26 saves in 36 opportunities. Their 72% save conversion rate is 5th in the National League. They have allowed 36% of the inherited runners to score, which is 4th worst in the league.

Closer Jeremy Jeffress is 1-2 and is 6th in the league with 21 saves in 22 opportunities. His 95% conversion rate is 5th in the league for anybody with more than 2 save opportunities. Tyler Thornburg is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA and is tied for 9th in the league with 14 holds.

Will Smith came back from a knee injury and is 1-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 15 appearances. Of their primary relievers, only Michael Blazek (4.97) has an ERA over 3.58. The relievers have been doing a pretty good job for the Brewers this season.

Overall Pitching: C-

The Brewers are 11th in the league with a 4.53 ERA. That has improved by over a run from April, when they had a 5.64 ERA. They are one of 3 teams to have allowed 100 or more home runs so far this season.

Another area that they have improved in is getting the leadoff hitter out. In April, opponents were hitting .408 and had an on-base percentage of .480 when leading off an inning. Now they are hitting .299 with an OBP of .364. That has contributed to the drop in ERA.

Power Hitting: D

The Brewers are 10th in the National League with 83 home runs and 12th with 309 RBI. Considering the fact that they play their home games in hitter-friendly Miller Park, that is not very impressive. They are in the bottom half of the league in all of the power numbers: home runs, doubles, slugging percentage, and total bases.

Chris Carter leads the team and is tied for 4th in the National League with 20 home runs, followed by Ryan Braun with 13 and Jonathan Lucroy with 10. The Brewers have 7 players with 10 or more doubles, led by Jonathan Villar with 17. Ryan Braun leads the team with a .546 slugging percentage and .929 OPS.

Hitting for Average: C-

The Brewers are 9th in the league with a .248 batting average and .326 on-base percentage. They have drawn the third most walks, but they have also struck out a league high 769 times. They have the 4th fewest hits and the 4th fewest runs in the league at the half-way point.

Braun is one of only 2 Brewers with an average of .300 or better, and he is third in the league with a .328 average. Lucroy is hitting .300, which is good for 17th in the league.

Villar has drawn a team-high 42 walks, good for 9th in the National League. Lucroy leads the Brewers with 3 triples and is tied with Villar for the team lead with 40 runs scored.

Overall hitting: D

The ultimate goal in baseball is scoring runs, and the Brewers have not been doing that. It starts with getting on base and the Brewers are among the worst in the league at that, which translates into being among the worst in the league in scoring runs.

Base Running: B-

The Brewers lead the National League with 68 stolen bases and have converted 72% of their attempts, good for 4th in the league. They have done this even though they have the 5th fewest stolen base opportunities (runner on first and/or second with the next base open).

The Brewers have been somewhat reckless on the basepaths. They have been thrown out 31 times, the 3rd most in the National League, including a league-high 9 times at third base and 11 times at home, second most only to the Pirates’ 12.

Villar leads all of baseball with 26 stolen bases, but he has been caught 9 times. He has been thrown out at third a league-high 5 times, a move that kills rallies. Other than Villar, the only base stealing threat has been Hernan Perez, who has 10 stolen bases in limited action.

Fielding: D

The Brewers have committed the 4th most errors and have the second worst fielding percentage in the National league. They still have had “Bad News Bears” innings recently, throwing the ball all over the place.

The Brewer catchers have thrown out a 4th best 40% of potential base stealers. Their 31 runners caught stealing leads the league. Martin Maldonado is 2nd in the league (for catchers with at least 10 attempts) with a 50% caught stealing percentage. Lucroy leads the league with 24 runners caught stealing.

Overall: D

The Brewers are in their first year of a rebuild, and as such, they are not expected to do well this year. They were playing pretty well until they started a west coast trip on June 13. They were 30-33 at that point, but have gone 5-13 since.

They have not had a winning streak of more than 4 games, but they also have not had a losing streak of more than 4. They are holding their own in 1-run games, going 12-15. After a rough 8-15 April, they went on a 22-15 run.

The Brewers are a better team than many expected, but they are still not a good team. They have some young players and more on the way, and they may get even more at the trade deadline. But for right now, they just are not good.

13 thoughts on “Brewers First Half Report Card”

  1. That is rather harsh considering the low expectations.
    As someone who predicted 52-110 I really must give the Brewers a C+ overall but the second half won’t go as well.

    1. It is harsh, but I did not grade on a curve. I was actually predicting about 75 wins, but I didn’t grade against that. There are only 3 teams in the NL with a record worse than the Brewers. I would give the Padres, Reds, and Braves an F, the Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies a D, and the Pirates and Phillies a C-.

      With that being said, I am happy with where they are. They continue to be aggressive and they don’t go down without a fight. If a couple of little things go their way, they would be close to .500. This is going to be a good team in 2018, and we as fans need to be patient.

      If I was going to grade them on how they fared compared to expectations, I would give them a B- overall. Starting pitching and hitting with RISP are the 2 things that I’m disappointed in with this team.

      1. I hope your forecast regarding 2018 occurs. I think that, in order to do that, they need to hang on to Braun and Lucroy for sure. What do you think? I have been a Brewers fan since they arrived in Milwaukee and want them to be competitive soon. Although I have lived my whole life in northern IL, I will never be a Chicago fan, ever.

        1. I think Braun and especially Lucroy could be key parts of the rebuild. However, if Stearns can get a haul of prospects for either or both of them, we may be better off. I am putting my trust into the front office to make the 2018 Brewers the best team they can be.

          1. As a long-time Brewers fan, since they arrived in Milwaukee, I have had less than your trust in the front office of the team, especially the last few years when they failed to keep players who were key contributors to their wins. I am tired of so much activity aimed at getting as many maybes as possible at the expense of having any current hope.

  2. Excellent analysis… I give them an overall C- bit that’s splitting hairs… the starting pitchers are dissapointing because of our #1 pitcher flamed out and our top potential youngster flopped terribly. That being said.. Junior has been a pleasant surprise so it wipes out one of the deficiencies… keep up the great work

    1. Junior was sensational yesterday in D.C. He gives we long-time Brewers fans some real hope for the relatively near future.

      1. Guerra has 2 scoreless outings now, and he has been a huge surprise. Unfortunately, I don’t see him being with the team after the trade deadline.

    2. Thanks for the feedback! If they had done better on that west coast trip, I would probably have given them a C-. The fact that the only teams that have fared worse are teams that I would give Fs to, I just could not give them anything higher than a D. I still like how they are playing, and the future looks bright in Milwaukee.

  3. Why this team continues to swing at bad pitches, including Braun, esp. with runners in scoring position, is a complete mystery to me. My impression was that Counsell wanted his hitters to emphasize being patient at the plate, but we still see batters like Ramon Flores swinging at the first pitch with runners in scoring position. In some ways it’s amazing the Brewers are doing as well overall as they are, but these are fundamental issues that need to be addressed. This team is in no position to be swinging freely as they’ve been doing so much of for the last several weeks. And until they can beat the Cardinals, it’s all pretty much a moot point anyway. Note that St. Louis gets beat by Pittsburgh immediately after sweeping us. In a way the Cardinals are a good barometer for how the Brewers are doing overall. We choke against St. Louis whenever we play them, it would appear. In other words, we seem to play our worst ball against them, not just in terms of not batting well, but in terms of simply not playing sound, fundamental baseball. First, show us we can compete against St. Louis. Then go on to worry about the rest of the league.

    1. The Brewer have been more patient at the plate this season, and they have been taking a lot of called third strikes. I think in the last couple of weeks, they have started to go the other way and have started to expand the strike zone. A guy like Flores is going to be swinging at the first pitch hoping for a fastball that he can handle. The Brewers as a whole are trying to find that middle ground between watching strike three and striking out by swinging at a ball. It is not as easy as it sounds, but I agree that they have had some awful swings lately.

      And you are right about the Cardinals. When we play them, everything goes out the window. Sloppy defense, poor pitch placement, and a general lack of offense is what we see too often when we face the Red Birds. I’m not too worried about beating them this season, but I would like to see some good fundamental baseball this weekend when the Cards come to Milwaukee.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond!

      1. I appreciate your thoughtful insights, and I look forward to contributing more as the season goes by…and watching the Brewers actually improve. This will in fact be a very telling weekend with respect to finding out what the Brewers are made of and the direction they want to take themselves. Now that the lineup card snafu is behind us, perhaps we (the coaches) will “take stock” and really look at how we’re approaching the game as a whole. I still don’t like sending Davies down though, whatever the convoluted reasoning behind the move might be. I look at it like this: if I’m Davies, I’m being told I don’t belong with the group. I don’t think that’s a positive signal to send a youngster.

        1. Davies is being sent down for 2 reasons. The first is to add another bat to our bench. The other is because the All-Star break will cause him to miss a start. Being sent down well allow him to get that start in. It’s not like somebody is starting in his place I’m Milwaukee.

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