The Milwaukee Brewers are off to a hot start offensively to the 2017 season. Can they sustain it?
The Milwaukee Brewers have been off to a torrid pace offensively to start the 2017 MLB season. It is the middle of May! There is no way in hell the Brewers should be second in overall offense! Putting them just one spot behind the Washington Nationals for best offense in all of Major League Baseball.
Much has been made about the sensational season that Eric Thames has been having so far. Thames has smashed a lead leading 13 home runs out of the park and scored 37 runs. According to Fox Sports Wisconsin, the runs scored total is a Milwaukee Brewers record pace. A pace that dates back to 1980 and attributed to the one and only Robin Yount. But Thames is not the only one who is stepping up and contributing big at the plate.
The Milwaukee Brewers received third baseman Travis Shaw in a trade with Boston. This trade has already paid huge dividends for the Brewers, as Shaw has been pretty exceptional as of late. Shaw is batting .283, with eight home runs and a whopping 31 RBI’s. The RBI total puts him 6th in all of Major League baseball. To have Thames and Shaw perform at this rate definitely makes up for right fielder Ryan Braun suffering from perpetual injuries as well as covering for Jonathan Villar’s woes at the plate, which are surprising to be quite honest.
Villar was exceptional last year and it was not just on the base paths. In 156 games last year, Villar finished up with a .285 average and gave Brewers GM David Stearns a lot to be happy about. After hovering around the Mendoza line to start the season, Villar has picked it up just a little bit to .222. Milwaukee will need him to step up if they want to keep bludgeoning teams in the run department.
Keon Broxton is another player who has been playing well recently. After a cold start, Broxton has made a compelling case for taking the lead off spot away from the struggling Villar. In a game against the Red Sox, Broxton led off and finished up 3/4 with four RBIs. I think Craig Counsell will wait it out and see if Villar gets hot. But do not be surprised if Broxton keeps playing well, and moves his way up to lead off permanently. He might not be as fast as Villar, but he definitely has speed. Another name that we cannot gloss over is Hernan Perez, who is batting .318 in the month of May and has been huge as Ryan Bruan’s replacement.
Pitching will crush Milwaukee if something does not change
Watching Milwaukee’s starting pitching staff is enough to give anyone heartburn. This past Sunday’s game against the Mets saw the Brewers down six runs by the 5th inning and to most Brewers fans, this comes as no surprise. The Brewers are simply not getting enough from Wily Peralta to warrant keeping him in the rotation. Once Junior Guerra is healthy, Peralta might be on his way out with an over 6.00 ERA.
Chase Anderson has been somewhat of a bright spot in the rotation, with a team leading 2.97 ERA. He takes the mound tonight against San Diego and will hopefully build on a decent season so far. According to GasLampBall, the Padres rely heavily on the home run ball for run production and Anderson has been exception this year at not giving up home runs. The Padres are a league worst in run differential, so expect Anderson to have a great opportunity to lower his ERA tonight.
Milwaukee has converted 67% of their save opportunities. That should get better with the promotion of Corey Knebel now closing down games. Knebel takes over for a struggling Neftali Perez, who has had multiple blown save opportunities in recent series.
So will their offense stay hot?
I would be surprised if the Milwaukee Brewers offense came crashing down to earth. The team is expecting Villar to come out of his slump. Even though he has been disappointing to start this season, there is no good reason to think he cannot be back up to around .270 by the All-Star break. I think they can finish top five in all of baseball. They have also been exceptional even with Braun’s .287 batting average in and out of the lineup. Struggling teams like the Cubs will eventually snap out of their sub par offensive performances, but I still have faith that Milwaukee will keep up a good offensive pace this year.
The encouraging news for the Milwaukee Brewers is that they still have to bring up some new faces later in the year. They have a slew of outfield prospects, some which will be available as early as next year as starters. Even if the Brewers slip down in the standings later in the year, it is certainly fun to watch them score runs and contend in games. Especially in a season where most expected them to be dead bottom of the cellar.