Monthly Archives: November 2018

Reviewing the hitter projections for the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers

Phew.

What a season. What an incredible, outta-this-world fun and heart-wrenching season the 2018 campaign turned out to be. When Mike Moustakas swung and missed on a pitch in the dirt from Clayton Kershaw to end the Milwaukee Brewers’ Cinderella story, I was broken, and yet, so thrilled and happy I was able to witness playoff baseball in Miller Park once again.

With that being said, I needed time away from the Brewers and from baseball, which is why this site has been silent for awhile. I needed to process what happened and I needed to decompress. That’s over with now. I’m ready to start thinking and writing about the Milwaukee Brewers again.

So let’s review the season by looking over the preseason projections from The First Out At Third’s own system (RW23), Steamer and ZiPS. In 2017, RW23 was fairly accurate with its hitter projections, while it struggled with pitchers. My computer took a dive just before the season started, so I was unable to project hurlers this year, though I did manage to get my hitter projections out to the world. Let’s see how they stacked up against the powerhouses of Steamer and ZiPs.

***Note: My preseason projections included Jonathan Villar, Eric Sogard, Domingo Santana, Jett Bandy and Stephen Vogt, but because Villar was traded, Sogard, Santana and Bandy barely spent any time with the team and Vogt missed the entire season, I decided not to include them below. If you have issues with this decision, take it up with the league office.

C Manny Pina

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 333 304 .245 .301 .370 .671 .125 .295 23.1% 6.4% .299 1 8
Steamer 231 210 .251 .306 .388 .694 .137 .300 20.5% 6.5% .297 1 5
ZiPS 339 311 .248 .299 .386 .685 .138 .295 19.5% 5.9% .288 2 8
Actual 337 306 .252 .307 .395 .702 .144 .301 18.4% 6.2% .285 2 9

Winner: Steamer

All three projection systems foresaw Pina’s fall back to earth after a career year in 2017. Steamer just happened to be a bit more spot on than RW23 and ZiPS. It remains to be seen if Pina will be Milwaukee’s starting backstop in 2018, though one should expect him to be on the 25-man roster.

1B Eric Thames

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 489 419 .243 .348 .499 .846 .256 .363 30.2% 12.8% .306 4 26
Steamer 508 437 .251 .346 .488 .834 .236 .352 27.2% 11.5% .309 6 26
ZiPS 516 441 .240 .345 .510 .855 .270 .358 30.6% 12.6% .300 7 29
Actual 278 247 .219 .306 .478 .783 .259 .330 34.9% 10.4% .284 7 16

Winner: N/A

Thames lost playing time to Jesus Aguilar soon after the season started, and he proved he wasn’t a reliable option off the bench, highlighted by the fact the Brewers refused to put him on their postseason roster. Thames looked lost at the plate all year, and none of the projection systems saw it coming. There’s no winners here.

3B/2B Travis Shaw

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 595 527 .277 .353 .535 .888 .258 .376 23.2% 10.1% .315 9 33
Steamer 580 516 .249 .323 .454 .777 .205 .328 23.4% 9.3% .286 5 26
ZiPS 573 515 .256 .323 .472 .795 .216 .335 23.2% 8.6% .294 7 26
Actual 587 498 .241 .345 .480 .825 .239 .351 18.4% 13.3% .242 5 32

Winner: ZiPS

Though RW23 was correct in projecting that Shaw was capable of putting up similar — if not better — power numbers to 2017, it was a little too bullish on the Brewers infielder, giving ZiPS its first win. Shaw was the victim of some BABIP bad luck, and I expect his average and OBP to rise in 2019.

SS Orlando Arcia

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 592 544 .278 .331 .431 .762 .152 .326 16.9% 7.0% .312 15 17
Steamer 551 503 .262 .313 .405 .717 .143 .305 17.5% 6.7% .296 14 14
ZiPS 599 554 .256 .305 .401 .706 .144 .299 18.2% 6.3% .292 16 16
Actual 366 348 .236 .268 .307 .576 .072 .253 23.8% 4.1% .305 7 3

Winner: ZiPS

We can just copy what I wrote about Thames and paste it here, because, boy, Arcia was just a bag of off-balanced swings during the regular season. He turned it on in October, but that doesn’t erase his miserable six months prior to that. Once again, RW23 hyped up Arcia, and while Steamer and ZiPS didn’t think he’d be this dreadful, the win goes to the latter.

OF Ryan Braun

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 475 428 .280 .345 .490 .835 .210 .356 18.3% 8.6% .308 7 20
Steamer 475 426 .277 .344 .496 .840 .219 .353 19.3% 8.8% .304 10 22
ZiPS 472 426 .284 .347 .495 .843 .211 .354 18.9% 8.3% .316 12 20
Actual 447 405 .254 .313 .469 .782 .215 .330 19.0% 7.6% .274 11 20

Winner: ZiPS

A .313 on-base percentage for Braun is shocking, though his career-low .274 BABIP explains it a little. I didn’t want to give ZiPS the win here, as all three projection systems missed the mark again, but I guess ZiPS was the closest. I honestly have no idea.

OF Lorenzo Cain

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 610 553 .292 .350 .417 .767 .125 .334 17.6% 7.7% .338 23 14
Steamer 593 533 .283 .344 .437 .781 .154 .335 17.7% 7.6% .324 16 16
ZiPS 579 530 .283 .339 .426 .765 .143 .328 16.6% 7.1% .322 22 14
Actual 620 539 .308 .395 .417 .813 .109 .359 15.2% 11.5% .357 30 10

Winner: RW23

RW23 thought that Cain would be a force at the top of Milwaukee’s batting order, but Cain exceeded expectations in nearly every category, and earned himself a handful of MVP votes. Meanwhile, RW23 finally finds the win column.

OF Christian Yelich

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 672 580 .300 .386 .502 .889 .203 .382 20.2% 11.8% .349 15 26
Steamer 647 560 .296 .381 .491 .871 .195 .371 20.2% 11.4% .348 12 23
ZiPS 682 598 .289 .371 .472 .843 .182 .360 20.8% 11.1% .346 16 21
Actual 651 574 .326 .402 .598 1.000 .272 .422 20.7% 10.4% .373 22 36

Winner: RW23

The first convincing win for RW23, as it projected Yelich’s career year. The Brewers outfielder brought home the National League MVP and displayed a power force he never showed during his time in Miami. It seems rather unlikely Yelich can hit 36 home runs again in 2019, but is it really sane to put expectations on him anymore?

UTIL Hernan Perez

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 355 333 .273 .309 .430 .739 .157 .319 17.0% 5.1% .300 8 12
Steamer 183 172 .258 .293 .398 .691 .141 .295 19.2% 4.5% .298 6 5
ZiPS 474 446 .269 .299 .426 .725 .157 .307 18.1% 4.2% .305 15 13
Actual 334 316 .253 .290 .386 .676 .133 .292 21.3% 5.1% .300 11 9

Winner: Steamer

Perez had a typical Hernan Perez season. No walks and no on-base skills. There’s not much else to say about his season. I gave Steamer the win, despite being off on his playing time numbers.

1B Jesus Aguilar

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP SB HR
RW23 82 74 .249 .314 .450 .764 .201 .330 28.8% 7.7% .311 0 4
Steamer 20 18 .236 .302 .426 .728 .190 .310 26.5% 7.9% .284 0 1
ZiPS 473 428 .243 .307 .428 .734 .185 .312 26.0% 7.8% .293 0 19
Actual 566 492 .274 .352 .539 .890 .264 .374 25.3% 10.2% .309 0 35

Winner: N/A

RW23 and Steamer didn’t think Aguilar would stick on the roster very long, and while ZiPS pegged him for a starting job, it vastly underestimated him as a hitter. Aguilar surprised everyone in baseball with his crushing of pitchers, and though he fell off in the second half, his season of 3.1 WAR was a tremendous success.

Final Results:

ZiPS: 3 wins

Steamer: 2 wins

RW23: 2 wins

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