2017 was a breakthrough year for many Milwaukee Brewers. Travis Shaw, Chase Anderson, Domingo Santana and many other players enjoyed big years. Which of these players will take a step or two back?
After a nondescript 2016 season, Milwaukee Brewers starter Chase Anderson truly broke out in 2017 posting a 2.74 ERA. Improving remarkably with strikeouts, Anderson posted an 8.47 K/9, nearly 1.5 higher from the season before.
Hindered with an oblique injury that took him out for two months, Chase threw for 141 innings. Regardless he posted a 3.3 WAR and was rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
Digging into the stats, Anderson’s 2017 season may not have been as good as it seems. Looking past his stellar ERA of 2.74, Chase posted a FIP of 3.58 and an xFIP of 4.33. Fielding Independent Percentage,measures the pitchers performance on the mound regardless of the defense behind him. While a FIP of 3.58 is very good, it shows that Anderson was lucky in his 2017 season.
Another statistic that shows Anderson was lucky was his left on-base percentage. Posting an insane LOB% of 80.6, Anderson was nine-percent better than the league average. Stranding more then four out of five runners proves Anderson’s myriad of luck in 2017.
One of the most productive players on the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, the “Mayor of Ding Dong City” had a career year. The prized piece from the Tyler Thornburg trade, Travis Shaw hit .273/.349/.513 with 31 homers, 34 doubles and 101 RBI. Doubling his home run total from the previous season, Travis Shaw performed extremely well in an everyday role. However, expecting Shaw to continue this production may be foolish.
First, let’s look at the projections. Steamer believes major regression is in order in 2018. The computer algorithms have him slotted for only a .250/.324/.457 slash with 26 home runs, which would translate to league-average offensive production.
Even though Shaw was considered one of the most consistent players in Milwaukee last season, his first and second half splits say otherwise. An All-Star snub, Shaw quietly put up 18 home runs and 2.5 WAR in the first half of 2017. Nonetheless, Shaw did not even make it to the final ballot last season.
Playing well over his head in the first half, Shaw may have found his true self in the latter part of the season posting a paltry .242/.326/.442. Interestingly, these are very similar to his Steamer Projections.
Perhaps the most obvious one on the list, “Nerd Power” turned heads last season with his gritty play at second base, and a patient plate approach that led to a .393 OBP. After his call up in May, Eric Sogard came out of nowhere and put up ridiculous numbers. In May, Sogard collected 14 hits, which included 13 walks and two measly strikeouts. Need more? He posted a 226 wRC+. His June was no joke either, as he slashed .316/.393/.432.
In July it was a different story. Dealing with ankle issues, he only played 12 games in July. In 28 at-bats he collected three hits. He was never the same after those two herculean months. Nonetheless, he posted a .393 OBP by season end.
A career 78 wRC+ hitter, Eric Sogard performed over his head in 2017. Other than providing some utility help and providing chemistry in the clubhouse, Sogard won’t be the everyday second. He can still provide value with his solid defense and versatility, but don’t expect such a high on-base percentage.
While the Milwaukee Brewers will return virtually the same roster it had in 2017, don’t expect another 86-win season. While Shaw, Sogard and Anderson may regress in 2017, 2018 is sure to feature to breakouts from unexpected sources.