Our look at the NL Central teams, part of our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season, continues with the Milwaukee Brewers, who finished in fourth place in the division last season.
After a 68-94 season the Brewers had a busy offseason, making several trades — some aimed at helping improve the team now, while other deals were intended to build the team for the future. The trade that involved the biggest names had the Brewers send a package highlighted by Jean Segura to the Diamondbacks in exchange for three players, notable SP Chase Anderson and 3B Aaron Hill. In other deals, the Brewers acquired SS Jonathan Villar from the Astros and traded away 1B Adam Lind and OF Khris Davis for minor leaguers.
The Brewers had a below-average offense in 2015, finishing slightly below the National League average in batting average (.251), home runs (145) and RBI (624). OF Ryan Braun had a bit of a bounceback season last year after a down year in 2014. He hit .285, with 25 home runs and 84 RBI in 140 games. The only other 20-homer guys on the 2015 Brewers were Lind and Davis, who are now gone from the team. On the pitching side, the Brewers’ 4.28 ERA was the fifth worst in the NL, with a rotation that saw only SP Taylor Jungmann finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA, and it was an unspectacular 3.77 ERA. SP Matt Garza, who is currently slated in the No. 4 spot in the rotation had a 5.63 ERA in 2015, the worst since his rookie season of 2006.
The offense in 2016 is made up of unproven young players and veterans. Among the unproven guys is Villar, who has never played more than 87 games in a season at the major league level and has a .236 career average in his limited career. On the other side of the diamond, the story is even worse with RF Domingo Santana, who has a .215 average in 177 career at-bats, which isn’t the type of number you want to see from a starting outfielder. 1B Chris Carter, who spent the last three seasons with the Astros, doesn’t hit for average — he has a .217 career mark — but he does have power, with at least 24 home runs in each of the last three seasons. C Jonathan Lucroy looks to bounce back from an injury-filled season in 2015 to return to his numbers from 2014, when he hit .301.There’s not a lot of experience n the starting rotation, other than Garza, leaving some questions there. The team also lacks an experienced closer, with RP Will Smith tabbed for the role; he has just 1 career save in 13 opportunities. (Update 3/26: Smith suffered a leg injury today taking off his shoe, likely leading to an extended stint on the DL for him, likely making RP Jeremy Jeffress the closer in his absence.)
If it wasn’t for the Reds, the Brewers would be the worst team in the division. As it is, Milwaukee is probably still going to be better than the Reds this season, but that’s going to help them have much success in the division. They’re likely headed to another fourth-place finish in the Central.
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