The Milwaukee Brewers offense was not a sight to behold for fans in 2020. Of all the offensive stats, these three were the most frightening.
Call it what you will: a shortened season that didn’t allow players a chance to get in a groove, a poor strategy in roster construction, or a combination of the two. Either way, the 2020 Brewers offense was downright scary to watch at times, and not in a good way.
Yet somehow, Milwaukee was able to reach the playoffs for the third year in a row, a first in franchise history. That was largely due to a strong performance from the pitching staff, both the starters and the relievers, who could return a scary (in a good way) bullpen in 2021.
But to have a better chance at getting past the Wild Card round in 2021, the Brewers have no choice but to improve significantly on offense. Here are three stats that the team needs to focus on improving going into next year.
1. Runs Per Game
To put it simply, the Brewers need to score more runs in 2021. It was scary how few runs they scored last season, just 4.02 per game to be exact, which ranked 27th in MLB. Amazingly that was higher than two NL Central teams, the Reds and Pirates, as well as the Rangers of the NL West.
That was a significant drop from the last two seasons as they scored 4.74 rpg in 2019 (17th) and 4.57 in 2018 (12th). Hopefully a return to form for some of the core offensive players like Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura, and Avisail Garcia as well as an offensive injection in free agency can result in more runs crossing the plate next season.
2. Strikeout Percentage
Of course it’s hard to push runs across the board if your batters are acting terrified of the ball in the batters box. The Brewers finished 2020 with a 26.6% strikeout rate, worst in the National League and third worst in all of MLB behind the Rays and Tigers.
A whopping 15 Milwaukee players finished with a strikeout percentage higher than the 23.4% MLB average compared to just six who didn’t. Of those 15 players, 11 of them had the worst strikeout rate of their career in 2020, though some had very small sample sizes. It’s hard to imagine many of them won’t regress back to the mean in 2021.
3. Stolen Bases
When Brewers batters did reach base in 2020, they were uncharacteristically afraid to steal bases. Milwaukee baserunners stole just 15 bases last season, which was also worst in the NL and second worst in MLB behind only the Twins who swiped just 14 bags.
The Brewers haven’t finished lower than 7th in the MLB in steals since 2016 so they are a team that is generally more aggressive on the basepaths. Getting on base more often in general in 2021 would certainly help generate more steal opportunities, but it also doesn’t help when your top stolen base threat (Yelich) isn’t hitting and your next best (Lorenzo Cain) opts out of the season.
Those are just a few of the areas in which the Brewers need to improve offensively for 2021. If they do, then Milwaukee fans won’t have to cover their eyes in fear when their favorite hitters come to the plate.