Milwaukee Brewers: Understanding 2018 ZiPS projections

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 09: Brett Phillips
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 09: Brett Phillips /

Every year, Fangraphs releases it’s 30 ZiPS Projections for all MLB teams. While they’re fun to look at, they’re not meant to take number by number, they give a rough estimate of the player’s production, and even though you can’t judge them unequivocally, you can judge them on a fantasy perspective.

Remember, these projections take place three months before the season starts, so plenty can change. Also, ZiPS projections don’t account injuries, and many of these projected players won’t even play in the Majors at all.

Before diving in, it’s always interesting looking at past predictions. It’s fun when the analyst is immensely wrong. Looking at the 2017 ZiPS productions, a few are straight-up amusing. But seriously, no one could have predicted how good Domingo Santana, Travis Shaw, Jimmy Nelson and all the players who had a breakout 2017 season.

Anyways, onto the 2018 projections!

Milwaukee Brewers Offense

The 2018 projections, told us what we knew. Shaw and Santana, the two biggest producers in 2017 are the only batters to projected at 2.0 WAR or better. Jonathan Villar will bounce back next season, but only to a replacement level player. However, our franchise player, Orlando Arcia, is only rated at 1.4 WAR.

A few numbers really stand out, ZiPS projects almost every Major League hitter to take a step back next season. Only Ryan Braun is expected to improve with a .284/.347/.495 slashline.  While it’s hard to project these players averages, but it’s difficult to understand how no one makes substantial improvements.

It is clear that the Milwaukee Brewers pitching is going to need to step up like it did in 2017.

Milwaukee Brewers Pitching

Without Nelson out for a good portion of the season, Zach Davies is deemed ace of the staff, worth 3.4 WAR. Chase Anderson is projected to take a big step back, only worth 1.9 WAR, and more surprising is Brandon Woodruff also projected at a 1.9 WAR. However, Jhoulys Chacin is only worth 1.2 WAR, which is interesting. Many analysts really liked this pick up by the Brewers, but it seems that pitching at Miller Park will hurt him a ton.

The bullpen will be strong with Corey Knebel projecting to have similar numbers to elite closer Kenley Jansen. Jacob Barnes and Jeremy Jeffress will be capable relievers as well.

Milwaukee Brewers Bench & Minor Leaguers

Lewis Brinson is projected to post below average numbers at the plate. Other hopeful prospects will need a long way to make an impact in The Show. The projections like Corbin Burnes, who hasn’t pitched at Triple-A yet, to be an average pitcher. Burnes has an outside shot at pitching in the Major Leagues this season. Other Minor Leaguers such as Taylor Jungmann and Aaron Wilkerson are projected to soak up innings at an average level in 2017.

Overall outlook

With 86 wins last year, these projections estimate 80-85 wins for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019. That’s plausible with the current roster. These projections aren’t here to tell us who’s going to do what, it’s here to give us ideas on needs on the roster.

It’s clear that Yovani Gallardo wasn’t signed to be Jake Arrieta, which is exactly why the Milwaukee Brewers still need a front line pitcher to compete this season. Another need is second base. These projections don’t think either Villar or Eric Sogard is our second baseman.

Next: Are the Brewers done making additions?

The Milwaukee Brewers won 86 games in 2017, and these projections tell us to expect results below that next season. However, in an NL Central with the reloaded Cardinals and the 2016 World Champion Cubs, that isn’t enough. However, with a flexible payroll and a loaded farm system, the Brewers can still make a splash this off season.