The Milwaukee Brewers offense is struggling mightily. They allowed themselves to get swept by a cold Royals team that had been in a pitching slump and have scored more than 4 runs in a game just four times in 17 games in the month of May. The Brewers have scored 0 or 1 runs in six of those games.
While the players have talked about it, and the team has acknowledged they’re in a bad slump, that’s doing little to quell a growingly frustrated fanbase. The Brewers have fallen below .500 now and even with the return of Christian Yelich into the lineup, there wasn’t an immediate spark to the offense.
Yelich is still getting back into the swing of things and has yet to find his 2018-19 power stroke at the plate. He’s going to need to find that sooner rather than later if this offense is going to get back on track.
Where can we assign blame for the Brewers offensive struggles?
When things go wrong for a baseball team, the first thing a lot of fans want to do is find a scapegoat. If the pitching is bad, fire the pitching coach. If the hitting is bad, fire the hitting coach. If a reliever comes in and gets lit up, fire the manager. Brewers fans have not been immune to this.
There have been growing calls from the fanbase to fire hitting coach Andy Haines. However, the Brewers do not appear interested in exploring that idea.
Haines and assistant hitting coach Jacob Cruz have been working tirelessly to help these players figure things out and the players have publicly stood up for them and vouched for them.
So where does the blame fall?
Do we still blame Haines? Do we blame individual players for not hitting well? Do we blame Stearns for putting this lineup together? Do we blame Rob Manfred for deadening the baseballs? Do we blame injuries decimating the lineup?
The correct answer is what Stearns said the other day, which was to not focus on ascribing blame and focusing on getting solutions. Playing the blame game generally does not lead to productivity from whomever people have decided to blame. Even if things do then turn around, the person that was blamed for the failures won’t get any of the credit for they bring about the success later on.
If you still want to place blame on somebody for the failures of this offense in 2021, there is plenty to go around. Focusing the blame solely on someone like Haines or Stearns neglects the other factors involved.
A lot of these players should be hitting better than what they are. Their career numbers show they should be better than this. Stearns put this roster together, yes, but a lot of these players are underperforming or have been hurt.
Yelich has only played in a dozen games this year, Keston Hiura has never once been himself this season while productive hitters like Kolten Wong, Omar Narvaez, and Lorenzo Cain have all spent time on the IL.
So does the blame fall on Haines? Not necessarily. Some hitters don’t want to talk to the hitting coach in a slump. Haines is more of a sounding board and a psychologist than he is a magician that automatically fixes swings and makes guys productive. He can give all the advice he wants, but it’s still on the hitters to swing and make contact.
So it’s on the players? Partially. Keston Hiura’s slump has left a huge hole in the lineup that now lacks a right-handed power bat. Avisail Garcia has tried to fill that role, but he’s been up and down. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been in a slump, as has Luis Urias while Travis Shaw and Daniel Vogelbach have been relatively consistent, but the numbers are low.
Singling out certain players for their struggles but neglecting the struggles of everyone else places an unfair amount of blame on that one player.
With the start and stop nature of the injury situation the Brewers have been in, that makes things quite difficult for an offense to get into a groove. Some players have been playing far more than anticipated and they could probably use a rest while the guys who have been hurt have to go from not seeing big league pitching and limiting movement for two weeks to a month to hitting at the level they were at before. It’s a tough ask.
There are a lot of contributing factors to this team’s offense struggling so much. The wise move is to not play the blame game at all. If you want to play the blame game, there’s so much to spread around, it’s really not worth trying to play it.
The Brewers will work their way out of this funk sooner or later. For everyone’s sake, hopefully it’s sooner.