The Offense: B
Going into this year, the Brewers offensive plan was to shore up some of the perceived weaknesses in the lineup during the offseason while leaning on top contributors from 2018 to form one of the more dynamic offenses in the league. The results of that plan have been mixed.
Yelich has followed up his 2018 MVP season with a strong attempt to repeat. At the break, he leads the NL in home runs, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, and is among the top ten in nearly every other major offensive category. His tight race for MVP this year with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger has even turned into a national media campaign.
The Moustakas and Grandal signings have paid off big as well. “Moose” ranks sixth in the NL in homers, forming the league’s top dinger-slugging tandem with Yelich. Meanwhile, Grandal once again ranks as one of the top few offensive catchers in the game. Both rank among the top three in most offensive categories at their positions. It’s no surprise, then, that all three ended up being the Brewers’ offensive representatives at this year’s All-Star game.
Other players have broken out offensively as well. Orlando Arcia is having possibly his best year offensively as he is on pace to set several career highs statistically. And Keston Hiura was pretty much exactly what Brewers fans were hoping for once he finally received the call to the show, providing some big moments along the way.
Many of the players who were expected to continue propelling the offense, though, have underachieved. Lorenzo Cain hasn’t been hitting near his career averages, though a nagging thumb injury may be partially responsible for that. Travis Shaw has been so poor that he was finally was optioned to Triple-A to try to find his stroke again. And Jesus Aguilar has continued the downward trend that began after last year’s All-Star break, though there are recent signs that he may finally be emerging from that slump.
If the general plan was for an increase in offense, then that’s what the Brewers have gotten. In the simplest terms, the 2018 Brewers scored 4.63 runs per game, seventh in the NL and above the MLB average of 4.45. This year, the Brewers have increased that to 4.75 runs per game, but that ranks them ninth and below the MLB average, which has risen to 4.80.
However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Prior to the 13-game funk that Milwaukee rode into the All-Star break, the team was sitting at a much more healthy 5.00 runs per game. Currently, that would elevate them to sixth in the NL and back above the MLB average.
So it depends on which version of the Brewer offense you think is real, the more potent one from the first 78 games, or the much less explosive one from the last 13. For argument’s sake, we’ll take the one with the larger sample size. Even combined, the plan to increase offensive output has largely done its job.