Welcome to the third and final part of wacky Milwaukee Brewer predictions for 2013. In the previous two articles, I discussed my wacky prediction of Wily Peralta winning the NL Rookie of the Year and Yovani Gallardo winning the NL Cy Young Award. In this article, we’ll discuss my third prediction for this Brewers team once April starts. This third prediction may seem a little more realistic, especially now with a few signings here and there that Doug Melvin has now accomplished.
In part three of ‘Wacky Brewer Predictions’, my third and final prediction is…
The Brewers Will Win the NL Central
One might not think the signings of relief pitchers like Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez would make a team automatic contenders, but it just may in the NL Central. The Brewers have already proven to be one of the under the radar offensive power houses of the MLB and the starting pitching was just as good last year. The bullpen is really where the problems came and hopefully the signings done so far can help adjust this team to where it needs to be.
We’ve discussed before the rotation and the multiple ways it can play out. Obviously Gallardo is the ace and one lock in the rotation. Behind him, there’s a bit of an uncertainty for the rest of the rotation, but a fight between Chris Narveson, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Peralta, Mark Rogers and Tyler Thornburg could be very interesting. Any of the pitchers named can provide a solid job and with a stronger bullpen to back them up now, the margin for error isn’t as tense as it used to be. That said, if the pitching problems shift from the bullpen to the starting rotation, then the Brewers will hit the proverbial speed bump once again.
The bullpen, which will once again rely on the mustache of John Axford to close out games, now looks poised to learn from the mistakes of 2012. In actuality, Axford and Jim Henderson are the only two pitchers currently in the bullpen who spent a significant amount of time with the team in 2012. Not to mention, guys like Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena and Fautino de los Santos may also seem some major league time this season. This is an entirely new bullpen with new chemistry to form and hopefully success to last.
Offensively, the Brewers are one of the best in the business. When your line-up packs a punch from Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, Corey Hart, Carlos Gonzalez, Norichika Aoki and the occasional Rickie Weeks, you know the scoreboard is going to be in the Brewers’ favor. Looking back at 2012, this is a Brewers’ team that was 3rd in runs scored (776), 3rd in slugging percentage (.437), 9th in on-base percentage (.325), and 12th in batting average (.259) out of all 30 teams. Not to mention, Braun was also a candidate for NL MVP a year after he won it in 2011. This is definitely a line-up that can hit a pitching staff where it hurts.
This is a team with talent, and if it can be put together like in 2011, it can go unmatched. Sure the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals still pose to be the two biggest threats to the Brewers, but this Milwaukee team can overcome them. A lot of analysts have Milwaukee going nowhere and so be it, we’ll take it. We’ll go unnoticed and shine the brightest when the time is right. We don’t need the attention to do well. Even if you look back at August and September of this year, the Brewers were barely mentioned despite having one of the best records in the MLB past the All-Star Game.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this team is going to places. World Series? Maybe. Playoffs? Definitely. This is a team that has figured out of the problems of the past and looks to rebuild for the future. The one advantage the Brewers have is how well they play at home and hopefully that will leak into 2013.
With that, my three wacky predictions for 2013 come to a close. 2012 was a crazy year of ups, downs and all arounds. We saw great performances, we saw awful performances and fortunately overall we were able to finish the season a few games above .500. Here’s to 2013 and what it will bring the Milwaukee Brewers.