Brewers studs and duds from a strong first month of the 2024 season

Milwaukee's best are leading the division heading into the month of May.
Apr 14, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) celebrates
Apr 14, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) celebrates / Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

You can put them in the bottom of your power rankings. You can give them low odds. You can count them out of the division race. But year after year after year, the Milwaukee Brewers seem to defy expectations and find themselves in the hunt.

That was the case once again this year, when the Brewers were rarely picked to win the NL Central and were picked to finish as low as fourth by some sites. Yet, just like they did for much of 2023, the Crew came out of April leading the division with an 18-11 record, sitting a half game ahead of the rival Cubs.

Not every performance was perfect, but a whole lot of them were really good to allow the Brewers to lead their division heading into May. With one month (plus) down, we'll look at a handful of studs and duds from the months of April plus a tiny bit of March.

Brewers stud for the month of March/April: C William Contreras

Can you believe the Brewers got this guy for basically nothing?

Yes, I know, that fact has been brought up plenty since the Brewers acquired their catcher of the future last offseason, but it's still fun to keep revisiting. Contreras was arguably the team's most consistent offensive player in 2023, already has an All-Star appearance to his name, and appears well on his way to another one in 2024.

Contreras leads qualifying in wRC+ (169), OPS (.952), OBP (.418), and average (.345) and leads all members of the Crew in doubles (7), RBIs (23), and runs scored (27). Those 27 runs scored are also tops among all MLB catchers, a group in which he is also top 10 in many other offensive categories. He has already had an impressive start to his career, but might be on his way to approaching superstar status.

Brewers dud for the month of March/April: 1B Jake Bauers

The Brewers opted for a total reset at the first base position this offseason. Rhys Hoskins was brought in to cover a majority of the playing time there and that move, unsurpringly, has largely gone well. Jake Bauers was also brought in and that move has not gone nearly as well.

Through the end of April, Bauers slashed just .200/.250/.383 in 64 plate appearances. His 77 wRC+ ranked 11th of 16 Brewers players to come to the plate to start the season and his 37.5% strikeout rate ranked 14th. The reclamation project hasn't worked yet and if he doesn't turn it around, he won't be long for the roster.

Brewers stud for the month of March/April: LHP Bryan Hudson

There are plenty of Brewers pitchers who could've qualified as stud for March and April, even on a staff with quite a bit of turnover from 2023. Freddy Peralta has looked great as the team's ace. Colin Rea has been very solid in the rotation as well. Elvis Peguero, Joel Payamps, and Trevor Megill have continued to anchor the back of the bullpen like they did last year.

Yet the most impressive pitcher of all so far this year might just be new Brewers reliever Bryan Hudson, a pitcher who wasn't even guaranteed to make the Opening Day roster. Not only did he do that, he has the lowest ERA (0.55) and batting average against (.132) on the entire pitching staff and has the second highest strikeout rate (28.8%) to boot. Not bad for a guy the Dodgers designated for assignment in December.

Brewers dud for the month of March/April: LHP DL Hall

When the Brewers finally made the move to trade former ace Corbin Burnes, the hope was that the pitching return in that deal, 25-year-old DL Hall, would be able to pick up at least some of the slack. Instead, he has some of the worst numbers of the entire pitching staff on the season.

Hall's 7.71 ERA in 16.1 innings is dead last among members of the pitching staff to throw at least four innings. He also allowed batters to hit nearly .400 in that time and struck out just 15.5% of them. Hall did end up being placed on the 15-day injured list with a knee sprain, but he wasn't exactly lighting it up before that. The Brewers are committed to seeing him succeed as a starter, but he'll need to look much better than he has so far to keep the team's faith.

Brewers honorable mention stud for the month of March/April: OF Christian Yelich

It's hard to fully hand Christian Yelich one of the stud awards when he's played in less than half of the Brewers' games in 2024. But it's still worth pointing out just how hot of a start the former MVP was off to this season before landing on the IL with a back injury.

In just 39 at bats, Yelich hit .333 with a 1.166 OPS to begin the 2024 season while adding five home runs and 11 RBIs before his back once again let him down like it has so often in recent seasons. He was a huge part of why Milwaukee got off to such a hot start this year and it will be important for the team to not rush him back so he's able to return at full strength and help continue the Crew's winning ways.

The Brewers have a habit of starting seasons strong, the tough part is always sustaining it. Keep having more studs than duds and there's a good chance the Crew will be able to make that happen.