The Milwaukee Brewers just finished up a very challenging three city road trip, and while we recognize the hardships these tough opponents in the Cubs, Phillies and Braves cause, there are still things that are concerning for the team that have came from this trip.
In almost all of the games on this trip, the Milwaukee Brewers actually did a great job of getting runners on base with both a lot of hits and a lot of walks, but what happened after they got those runners on is the problem that still needs to be dealt with.
Over the nine games of this trip they have averaged 5.3 BB per game and 9.2 hits per game, and yet the run production has not always come as a result of those numbers. They averaged 4.9 runs a game over the nine game trip, scoring a total of nine runs in Chicago (seven in one game), 26 runs over four games in Philadelphia, and 14 in Atlanta (eight of those coming after they were down 12-0 in the first game).
Particularly in Chicago, the Brewers often got the leadoff or second batter on in the inning, which is exactly what you want, but in order for that to mean anything the guys following have to come through. There were too many double plays on this trip, and too many bad at-bats when there were two outs and runners in scoring position. The Brewers actually rank third-to-last in MLB with an average of 0.94 double plays grounded into per game.
Even in the games where they won or had a lead, there were opportunities to take a more commanding lead that were not taken, and while it may not seem like a big deal in the moment, there have been times where it comes back to bite. For example, in the first game in Philadelphia the Brewers got 20 total runners on in that game, and had a lead, but yet scored just four runs. While they won that series, that’s still a game you look at as a missed opportunity.
Then in Atlanta, they had back to back games where they had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in the ninth, and in both situations they had poor at bats and did not come through, including an unfortunate baserunning mistake by Yasmani Grandal on Sunday. Particularly on Saturday, with a hot Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas coming up, you expect those guys to step up in those situations.
Issues With The Bases Loaded
One big part of these struggles were when the bases were loaded. The Brewers loaded the bases quite a bit over the road trip, but they went just 4-24 at the plate while the bases were loaded, thus wasting a lot of golden opportunities to either tack on runs or to come back in the game.
The solution to these problems is to just have better at-bats in big situations. It is understood that the Brewers have some powerful, but strikeout prone hitters, however, in at-bats with runners on the Milwaukee Brewers need guys in the middle of the order like Braun, Grandal, Moustakas, and the two first baseman, Aguilar and Thames, to just get the job done rather than limiting the results to a home run or strikeout.
Another very evident statistic showing this concern is that the Brewers are second-to-last in all of MLB in average number of runners left on base, sitting at 15.38 runners left on per game. They also rank 20th in the league in runners left in scoring position at 3.58 per game.
Now these numbers can be a bit misleading if not given context, as some of the teams who are near the top of this list are teams with bad records, because to have runners be left on you have to, well, get runners on base, which teams like the Marlins (who rank 6th on the list) don’t do nearly as much as good teams.
However, when looking at the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that knows they have one of the best offenses in baseball, and typically depends on their offense to win games, these numbers are more concerning because it shows that they are missing opportunities in close games that could have been wins.
If the Brewers pitching staff weren’t in such a good place right now, the Brewers could be struggling mightily, but to consistently get wins it takes the whole team, and while the offense for the most part has done a decent enough job to win some games, there is a lot left to be desired.
Two out of the next four days will be off days in Milwaukee, and in between is a series against the last-place Reds, followed by a home series against Philadelphia, so now is the time for the offense to reset a little bit and get going. We could also see the return of Travis Shaw from injury and this would be a good time for him to get going, but with Keston Hiura coming up and doing some nice things, that is currently yet to be determined.
Overall, the Milwaukee Brewers did what they had to do, and got the wins they needed on this trip, but if the problem of leaving runners on base continues, it could become much more of an issue, especially if the pitching staff begins to struggle.
Right now though, the Brewers should feel alright about where they are as a team, but concerned enough that they need to work on and address this issue.