Brewers: Offense Will Need to Be Addressed This Off-Season
By Tyler Koerth
The Brewers offense was, for lack of a better word, bad in 2020. It’s an area that the team will need to address once again this off-season.
2020 was not a good season for the Brewers, offensively. The team’s offensive output decreased a significant amount from years previous for the Brewers as they averaged just 4.02 runs per game. This was the lowest average since the 2014 season when the team averaged 4.01 runs per game.
Many factors played into this pitiful looking offense in 2020. Some of it relates to how GM David Stearns took an approach where he signed multiple players to one-year deals with club options for 2021, the exception being Avisail Garcia who got two years guaranteed. He also traded for Omar Narvaez and Luis Urias.
How did all the Brewers’ off-season acquisitions pan out?
Garcia was essentially the “big” off-season addition last year given his annual value being at $10 million. In 2020, Garcia was asked to play out of position after Lorenzo Cain opted out and for a while was regularly battling chronic injuries.
The results for Garcia in 2020 were quite mixed. Primarily serving as the leadoff hitter, he often went through big slumps where he couldn’t buy a hit, but he did finish with 10 multi hit games including two games where he collected three hits.
Brock Holt was the first offseason acquisition to be DFA’d in the 2020 season as he finished his tenure with the Brewers at a .100 batting average. Eric Sogard was coming off a career season in 2019, but his offensive performance was very poor in 2020 and reminded more of when the Brewers last DFA’d him in 2018.
Stearns was hoping for bounce back seasons from Justin Smoak and Jedd Gyorko. Smoak ended up being DFA’d halfway through the season while Jedd Gyorko was one of the Brewers more consistent hitters.
So then what about Omar Narvaez and Luis Urias, two players with track records of hitting that were acquired via trade in the off-season?
Well like most of the Brewers offense, neither one of these players was able to be much of a threat at the plate. By season’s end, Narvaez was losing playing time versus right-handed batters to Jacob Nottingham and Luis Urias was in a platoon with Sogard and Jace Peterson at third base.
How did the top two Brewers players fare this season?
Although most of David Stearn’s new acquisitions did not pan out in 2020, at least the Brewers have superstar Christian Yelich and phenom hitter Keston Hiura to carry the load offensively, right?
Wrong. Christian Yelich had perhaps the worst sixty-game stretch of his entire career this season. His .205 batting average and 30.8% strikeout percentage were both career worsts by a wide margin. More often than not he looked lost at the plate and became very passive as the season went along as he took a “get on via the walk” approach due to his inability to put the ball in play.
Though Keston Hiura finished 2020 as the Brewers leader in hits and home runs, he also happened to lead the National League in strikeouts with teammate Christian Yelich right behind him in second.
While to the naked eye it seemed like Hiura’s at bats were hard hit or bust in 2020, Statcast shows us that in a smaller sample size when compared to 2019, Hiura’s 2020 hard hit percentage and exit velocities were significantly down. It is fair to say Hiura hit the sophomore slump in 2020.
What does this mean for the Brewers going forward?
Of the offseason signings from 2019, pending a trade, Avisail Garcia will be on the roster in 2021 and Stearns will have to make decisions on whether or not to pick up Jedd Gyorko and Eric Sogard’s club options.
The Brewers did acquire big left-handed hitter Daniel Vogelbach during the season as well. Vogelbach outperformed expectations from a hitting perspective and consistently collected hits to the opposite field. 2021 will be Vogelbach’s last season of pre-arbitration, so from a financial standpoint retaining Vogelbach will cost the Brewers very little money.
In 2021 you have to assume superstar Christian Yelich will return to near MVP form and that Keston Hiura will make adjustments. However, there are still a ton of holes and additional question marks. Will Ryan Braun return? How will an aging Lorenzo Cain do in 2021 after essentially a full year of no baseball?
To me I think David Stearns may need to pony up and pay another veteran hitter to join this Brewers ball club in 2021. The Brewers have benefitted from slower/cheaper off-season markets in the past and while last year the market was completely different, hopefully given the situation of the 2020 season it slows down again and allows the Brewers to make a signing.
It’s going to be a long off-season for the Brewers and their fans. However it transpires, it needs to include some new offensive firepower for Milwaukee when all is said and done.