This is a pivotal offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers. Beyond the fact that the team finished just short of the postseason in 2017, the 2018 season represents a true changing of the guard.
For 11 seasons Ryan Braun has been “The Man” for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has hit .302 while slugging 302 home runs and driving in 989 runs during his impressive, albeit tarnished career. He is the last pillar of success still remaining from the last time Milwaukee was a contender.
Day in and day out, the one player Brewers fans could always depend on in the 2107 season, was Travis Shaw. To me, the only thing flashy about Shaw is his nickname. However, the “Mayor of Ding Dong City” flashed a lot of leather last season.
Shaw committed only six errors with the glove, and had three throwing errors, giving him a .975 fielding percentage. It goes beyond the glove with Show though, it’s about his dependability. After playing 145 games for Boston in 2016, Shaw followed it up by playing in 144 games in ’17.
“Mr. Mayor” didn’t disappoint with the lumber either. He drove in 101 runs for the Brewers, while hitting 31 “ding dongs”, with a .273 battling average. His 66 extra base hits show his ability to drive the ball with power, and playing in Miller Park won’t hurt his cause. Just for fun, he even threw in 10 stolen bases without ever being caught, he’s still on the loose out there somewhere.
Whether he was saving runs in the field or adding runs with his bat, without Shaw, last season would have been drastically different for Milwaukee. He was one of the biggest keys to the Brewers resurgence in 2017. He should be the center of the Brewers’ universe for years to come.
There is no reason to believe he can’t match his production of a year ago consistently moving toward. He’s young, just entering the prime of his career, and Miller Park provides a tremendous advantage to lefties. However, for Milwaukee to contend, it’s all about complimenting him with the right players around him.
The last time Milwaukee was a serious contender, Braun had Prince Fielder and Zach Greinke helping to shoulder the load. The Brewers will need someone like Domingo Santana or Chase Anderson to continue to improve to take the pressure off of Shaw.
With the Winter Meetings starting this week, the Crew could also look outside the organization for reinforcements. The smart move for Milwaukee is to supplement the rotation by adding an arm this winter. Jimmy Nelson will miss a considerable amount of time this season, if not the entire season. Acquiring a player of the caliber of Jake Arrieta would be a clear sign that this organization is ready to make a push.
The ’17 season brought so much optimism back to the Brewers organization. Instead of embarking on a years long rebuild, this organization looks primed to contend in the National League. Shaw might just be the most important piece to the Milwaukee Brewers puzzle.