Four Milwaukee Brewers players who need to step up in the second half

The Brewers have a division lead, but need some players to step up to keep it that way.
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

If the Milwaukee Brewers want to continue to dominate the National League Central down the stretch,  they’ll need strong seasons from eight or 10 core pieces.

Several Brewers are already delivering, which is why the Crew stands 52-38 entering play Sunday and solidly in first place in the division.

William Contreras is the starting NL catcher in the All-Star game, and with good reason. Contreras is producing a .806 OPS with 51 RBIs and a .360 on base average. Christian Yelich, also an All-Star starter, is reprising his MVP-level seasons of five years ago, batting .322 with a .912 OPS. Brice Turang and Joey Ortiz have been pleasant surprises at second and third, and Trevor Megill – with 18 saves – leads a revelationary-level bullpen.

That, however, Is not necessarily enough in an NL Central known for its competitive balance. Here are four Brewers who need to step up their games across the season’s concluding half if Milwaukee is to celebrate in October.

1. SS Willy Adames

It’s not that Willy Adames is having a bad season; at 13 home runs and 58 RBIs he leads the team in both categories. It’s that Adames is capable of more.

Adames is hitting .234; that’s about 10 points below the league average in a season when averages are as depressed as they’ve been in half a century. He’s 12 points off his own career average and 30 points off his career slugging average.  

Adames’ defense also needs an upgrade. He’s producing negative Defensive Runs Saved data, ranking 34th at the position. One year ago he ranked fourth.

The thing about Adames is that his speed, energy, age, experience and potential make him an ideal candidate for team leadership. All he’s lacking is consistent productivity. That’s especially vital at shortstop.

2. OF Jackson Chourio

When the Brewers tied up Jackson Chourio long-term, they obviously were banking on him developing into a central piece of both the offense and defense. Midway through his rookie season, there are signs that it’s happening. It needs to.

Chourio hit .206 in April and .215 in May, but he’s stepped that up to .315 in June and .417 thus far in July. He’s hit safely in 11 straight games since June 23, improving his average from .223 to .251. If he maintains that upward pace, Chourio will be a centerpiece of Milwaukee’s offense.

3. 1B Rhys Hoskins

The Brewers gambled on Hoskins, a power threat in Philadelphia who sustained a season-ending injury in March of 2023, lost his job to Bryce Harper, and was released this past offseason. He has contract options that run through 2026.

The Milwaukee version of Hoskins has shown echoes of his Philadelphia power. He’s hit 12 home runs and driven in 42 runs, both semi-respectable totals at this stage for a slugger.

But the Brewers need the bat Hoskins used to be, the 30-homer guy he was in 2022 and the.484 slugging average he produced over his first six seasons, not the .218/.311/.402 slash line he’s delivering in 2024. Where’s that Rhys Hoskins?

4. SP Freddy Peralta

Is it unfair to ask Peralta, who has spent his career excelling in a supporting role behind Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, to be an ace? Probably…but that’s life on the 2024 Crew.

At 6-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 18 starts covering 98 innings, Peralta’s been his usual self. But in a make-it-up-as you-go-along rotation, there aren’t any ace candidates likely to materialize.

Peralta projects to get 14 or 15 more starts between now and season’s end. To keep some heat off Milwaukee’s excellent but strained bullpen, he needs to turn those starts into close to 100 innings of quality work, take a quarter-point at minimum off his ERA, and run his win total up to 15 at least.

That’s what an ace does. And reality says Freddy has to be that ace in 2024. Stepping up to that level, along with some other players who could elevate their games, could secure that second straight division title by season's end.