Milwaukee Brewers 2020 Season Report Card: Josh Hader

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The two-time reigning National League Reliever of the Year Josh Hader added another very strong season to his already impressive resume for the Brewers in 2020.

While many of the headlines regarding the Brewers bullpen rightfully went to breakout star Devin Williams, Josh Hader continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the closer’s role, leading the National League with 13 saves.

This is an impressive feat, considering Hader didn’t get as many appearances as Craig Counsell would’ve hoped. Due to the fact that the Brewers were often playing from behind this season and not finding themselves in save situations as much, Hader only appeared in 21 games.

Much like recent years, Hader was nearly untouchable once he got the count in his favor. He only gave up one hit on an 0-2 count in 2020 (hitters were 4-52 against him in 0-2 counts in 2019), which reflects his ability to control at-bats and not let hitters get comfortable.

One of the goals for Josh Hader after struggling a bit at the end of 2019 was developing a reliable slider to complement his overpowering fastball, which he did. This helped him be less predictable to hitters who were growing more accustomed to his style.

Aside from one mess of an outing in an August 29th game against Pittsburgh where Hader lost command of his fastball and proceeded to walk five batters before being pulled, the long-haired lefty was as steady as can be. Opponents were hitless against him until September 5th. 

Josh Hader 2020 Season Grade: A-

Hader is still just 26 years old, so clearly he should have many years of his prime ahead of him. He made $4.1 million in 2020 in his first round of arbitration, and will be due for a pay raise every year, assuming he continues his high level of play, until he hits the open market in 2024.

As such, there may be a case to be made that the Brewers could benefit from a trade of Josh Hader at the right price. Ideally, this would beef up Milwaukee’s farm system and give them some offensive pieces with upside to remedy the offensive woes the team experienced in 2020. Some teams that are looking to contend immediately and could potentially be interested in a trade are the Dodgers, White Sox, or Yankees.

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That said, trading arguably the best reliever in baseball over the last three seasons could end up being regrettable for a Milwaukee club that plans on contending in the immediate future. With the way baseball is played today, you can never have too many stud relievers.