The World Series is over (congratulations to World Series champion Mike Fiers) but for fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, the offseason began long ago. The Brewers missed the playoffs by an inch, and although playing in October would’ve been incredible, the season as a whole was a great success. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; the future is bright in Milwaukee. I fully believe this team is just a year or two away from being a perennial playoff team, something the Brewers have never really been.
But now that the season is over, it’s time to revisit the projections by comparing my own system (RW23) that was created with the help of Mike Podhorzer and his book Projecting X 2, with popular projection systems Steamer and ZiPS. This was the first year I had ever created projections, and I’m curious to see how they held up.
Below you’ll find every Brewers hitter I projected in the preseason, along with Steamer and ZiPS projections, compared to said player’s actual 2017 statistical line. Pitcher projection results will soon follow the publication of this article.
Even though Steamer vastly miscalculated Pina’s playing time while RW23 was dead accurate, Steamer’s projections were consistently more spot on, giving it the win. Neither of the three thought Pina would have the offensive season he mustered. Kudos to him.
Another close one with Steamer, but RW23 earns its first win. It correctly predicted Thames’ home run total and was just a point off in slugging and BABIP. Thames produced an excellent season for the Brewers and was definitely a major upgrade over Chris Carter. ZiPS, meanwhile, is still looking to get on the scoreboard.
Jonathan Villar was awful in 2017. While each system projected regression from his phenomenal and unsustainable 2016 campaign, none had him falling off the face of the earth. He eventually lost his starting job to Eric Sogard and Neil Walker, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds himself displaced from the roster next year.
RW23 was a little more bullish than Steamer and ZiPS, though Shaw still managed to exceed all projections and expectations. He set a career high with 31 home runs and had his best season of his career. Not the most accurate projection by RW23, but it somewhat projected his breakout.
Once again, RW23 was overall just more consistent. Arcia managed to outperform the projections and turned out to be somewhat of a better hitter than people expected. He still only finished with an 85 wRC+, so there’s room for improvement from the 23 year old.
ZiPS earns its first win, as it accurately predicted Braun’s wOBA and was just a couple points off of his OPS. Braun’s home run power disappeared in 2017, and he just didn’t look like the player he used to be. With the crop of young outfielders the Brewers are ready to employ, Braun’s future is a little up in the air.
Keon Broxton led MLB in strikeout rate (minimum 400 PA), and ZiPS nailed it on the head with that one. ZiPS was scary accurate throughout Broxton’s projection, while RW23 turned out to be way too optimistic. The centerfielder was, however, able to knock out 20 home runs, but his 84 wRC+ left a lot to be desired.
This one wasn’t all that close. RW23 correctly predicted Santana’s breakout, particularly when it came to his power numbers. Personally, I’ve been a die-hard believer in Santana as a prospect and a player, and it’s nice to see him perform at such at high level in his 25-age season. He led the Brewers in wRC+ and while 30 home runs might be his peak, expect his OBP numbers to increase as he continues to get a better feel for the strike zone.
ZiPS believed Perez would get more playing than a typical utility player, and it was right. For the second straight year, Perez set a career high in home runs and is destined to play a similar role for the Brewers in 2018.
Bandy started out hot to begin the year, but the catcher eventually cooled and was optioned to the minors. He has raw power and RW23 expected to see that in 2017. It’s hard to envision Bandy making the Opening Day roster in 2018 with Manny Pina and Stephen Vogt still on the roster, but a eye-opening spring could keep him in Milwaukee’s plans.
Aguilar is arguably the biggest surprise of the 2017 campaign. He’s a relatively unknown player who just happened to post a 112 wRC+ off the bench in his first full season in MLB. RW23 and Steamer didn’t believe in him at all. Sure, he had a fantastic spring training, but spring training stats are relatively meaningless. It will be interesting to see what the projections look like for Aguilar next year.
ZiPS: 5 wins
RW23: 4 wins
Steamer: 1 win