The Brewers can compete this year! If all these things go right. Brace yourself, it’s a long list.
I am overcome with the optimism of spring. It is a beautiful and magical time. All teams have the same record, and no one is eliminated from contention. Your team can be viewed through the wide lens of childlike wonder, before the reality of the season breaks you down. Odds are the hopes and dreams of the Milwaukee Brewers will be crushed at some point before the trade deadline. But it does not have to be this way right now.
Baseball surprises us every year. For the purposes of this article, I’ll take a look at what would have to happen for the Brewers to be competitive this year. I know, I know, odds are long, but I am going to indulge in this spring training dream.
On paper the Brewers offense looks to be its strength. The line up will have to mash to hit my spring fever distorted expectations. The keys to this will be Braun, Villar, Arcia, Broxton, and Thames. Here is what their performances would have to look like for this to happen.
Ryan Braun continues to be Ryan Braun, matching last years performance. Of all the leaps that need to be made, this is the most likely.
Jonathan Villar avoids regression, and continues to stick a finger in the eye of the BABIP Gods. Also the position change to second base greatly improves his defensive value and solidifies the infield defense as a whole.
Orlando Arcia reaches his potential, plays above average defense at short stop and his bat develops. Offensive production somewhere along the lines of 100-105 wRC+.
Eric Thames proves to be the steal of the off-season. Projections are all over the map with Thames, but he would need to hit the high-end of those projections. Something along the lines of .275/.375/.500.
Keon Broxton becomes a superstar. A lot of people are high on Broxton, he would need a Carlos Gomez style breakout. I am talking about a 5 win center fielder with solid defense and offense.
If you squint hard enough, and put on your spring training optimism glasses, none of these things seem that outlandish on their own. Odds of all 5 of these players accomplishing this simultaneously are quite long. However I am not gong to let that get me down! Spring hopes attorney!
Take all of the optimism of the offensive best case, give it 6 beers and a puppy to play with, and you get the best case pitching scenario.
Junior Guerra and Zach Davies improve on their 2016 performances. The aforementioned pitchers were by far the Brewers best last year. This is a big ask for a 32-year-old coming off of his rookie season, and a 6 foot tall, 155 lb man who does not have a blazing fastball. However, of the Brewers pitchers, these two have the best chance at improvement.
Jimmy Nelson or Wily Peralta regain old form. One of these two need to become a solid middle of the rotation arm. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 wins while eating up innings. Even for an eternal optimist, this is hard to see.
Josh Hader becomes the Brewers best pitcher. He has the stuff that people dream on, but there are plenty of questions. Hader may not even see much time in the big leagues this year, so this assumes he gets called up, and adjusts to MLB very quickly, and immediately dominates.
When you look at all the logical stretches you have to make, you can see why most projections see the Brewers’ win totals in the low 70’s. However, baseball is weird, Stranger things have happened.
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