Even though there is plenty of offseason left to go, before we know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting for the 2024 season. So with the season drawing ever closer, player and team projections are starting to pop up around the baseball-verse.
One of the big sets of projections to get released every offseason are the ZiPS projections over at FanGraphs. They are put together by writer Dan Szymborski and on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers saw their name called.
When it comes to this year's Brewers ZiPS projections, there is some good to go along with some bad, as is the case with most seasons. A few things stick out more than others, though, and we'll look at a few of those observations here.
Here are four observations from the 2024 Milwaukee Brewers ZiPS projections over at FanGraphs.
1. The Brewers' first base and designated hitter positions are expected to be.....rough.
The first base and designated hitter positions should be a bigger source of offense than others for most teams across the league. That, unfortunately, was not the case for the Brewers in 2023 and the same currently projects to be true in 2024.
The Brewers are projected for just 0.7 total fWAR (a number that does include defense as well) at first base by a group of players that includes Jake Bauers, Owen Miller, and Tyler Black (who also factors in at third). The same fWAR is projected at DH by the group led by Christian Yelich, William Contreras, and Joey Wiemer, who all will play at other spots during the season.
The Brewers have made moves in January in recent years, so it's hard to imagine that GM Matt Arnold doesn't still do something to improve one or both positions before the 2024 season begins. These projections, however, prove just how vital it is that he does so.
2. Brewers shortstop Willy Adames to ball out in a contract year?
After a slow start to the first half of the 2023 season, Brewers shortstop Willy Adames finally came around toward the end and finished strong to help the Crew secure the NL Central division title. Now, heading into his final season before free agency, he has a full year to audition for a big contract next offseason.
ZiPS is predicting a big year for Adames in his age 28 season with a nearly .800 OPS and 3.9 fWAR, the latter of which would be the second highest mark of his career after his 2022 season. Fans might only get one more season to see him in a Brewers uniform, but that would be a great way to watch him go.
3. The top of the Brewers starting rotation should be solid, but needs a little more reinforcement.
Last season, the Brewers had four starting pitchers finish the year with a fWAR of at least 1.4. Two of those pitchers, Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser, are no longer with the team, while the other two, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, will lead the rotation in 2024.
That's a good start to the rotation but there are questions marks after that. ZiPS projects Wade Miley and Robert Gasser to largely replace the production of Woodruff and Houser. But will the 37-year-old Miley continue to defy Father Time? Will Gasser shine as a rookie or struggle as many rookies do? The prices for starters have been high this offseason, but grabbing one more for the middle of the rotation might be necessary.
4. The Brewers bullpen should be scary yet again in 2024.
Though it had a bunch of new faces in 2023, the Brewers bullpen was one of the nastiest in the league last year. They were nearly the best at preventing runs, finishing with the second best ERA in MLB at 3.40, led by now two-time NL Reliever of the Year Devin Williams.
23 teams have had their ZiPS projections released so far and the Brewers' projected combined bullpen fWAR of 4.7 ties for the third highest behind just the Rays and Braves. With largely the same group returning for 2024, it's hard to imagine that they won't either match or exceed these projections this year.
Even with some moves still (hopefully) coming, this is the core group that will lead the Brewers into the upcoming season. Will that be enough to bring home a second straight division title? ZiPS at least gives them a fighting chance.