Milwaukee Brewers Set Opening Day Lineup
This year, the Milwaukee Brewers return nearly the same lineup that they fielded throughout most of last season. Their relatively quiet offseason saw the addition of Adam Lind as the Brewers’ most significant lineup change, giving the Brewers’ a legitimate first baseman after suffering through league worst play at the position during the 2013-14 seasons. Coming into camp, however, there were several questions regarding the order of the starting lineup that manager Ron Roenicke would field on Opening Day. Who would lead off? Would Aramis Ramirez bat cleanup after showing his age last season? Where does Lind fit in? After experimenting with several different lineups throughout the spring, it appears that the Brewers’ have finally settled on a lineup to trot out on April 6th.
Last season, the Brewers ranked sixth in the National League while scoring 4.01 runs per game. While this isn’t the batting order that I would have necessarily settled on, the Brewers still figure to feature a strong lineup capable of scoring runs in bunches. I would have liked Carlos Gomez better in the cleanup spot rather than leading off, as I think his power would play better in a run-producing role. However, he does have the ability to start the game off with a bang from the leadoff spot, and posted a 135 wRC+ and .844 OPS in 106 games batting first last season. Aramis Ramirez is a familiar face in the cleanup slot, but he should probably have been moved lower in the order after his power vanished in the second half last season (.110 ISO). The addition of the lefty swinging Lind gives the Brewers a little more balance than they have had in recent years, and Scooter Gennett will join him as the other lefty in the everyday lineup. After a tough season last year, Jean Segura will open the season in the eight hole, where he can try and re-establish himself offensively. Both Gennett and Segura struggle with taking walks and have posted low on-base percentages thus far during their career, pigeonholing them to spots lower in the order. Should either ever develop a better eye at the plate, however, they could be lead-off candidates in the future.
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As it has been discussed throughout the offseason, much of the Brewers success will rest upon the surgically enhanced right thumb of Ryan Braun. Braun was far from himself last season, posting career lows with a .266/.324/.453 line and 19 home runs in 135 games. Following last season, Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure to effectively “freeze” the damaged nerves in his thumb, hopefully allowing him to be able to grip the bat pain free. After struggling to begin the spring, Braun enters the days with a 1.045 OPS and two home runs in 37 spring training plate appearances, showing an ability to pull the ball that he lacked throughout most of last season. Ron Roenicke echoed the positive news for his for his former MVP outfielder earlier today:
Hopefully this means we can count on production similiar to the .290/.362/.526 and 27 home runs that RtB projected for Braun in February. If Ryan can return to his pre-injury form, the Brewers lineup becomes exponentially more threatening.
It’s important to remember that a team’s batting order generally has very little bearing on the success if a team over the course of a season. As I mentioned in my optimized lineup piece in January, even a “perfect” batting order is worth only about one win over a 162 game season. So while I would have much rather seen Jonathan Lucroy leading off and Carlos Gomez batting cleanup, it won’t be the end of the Milwaukee Brewers this season.
The Brewers open their season on April 6th at Miller Park. Kyle Lohse will take the mound for Milwaukee, facing off against Kyle Kendrick and the Colorado Rockies.