Reviewing the pitcher projections for the 2019 Milwaukee Brewers

The 2019 season came to an end for the Milwaukee Brewers after one playoff game. The Brewers choked away a late lead in the National League Wild Card winner-take-all showdown and were sent home packing a year after being one win away from a World Series berth. Overall it was a disappointing campaign for Milwaukee. They had too much talent to just disappear after a single game, though they were lucky to even make the playoffs in the first place.

Because the Brewers season is over, it’s time to look back at the preseason projections and see where the models went wrong and where they went right. So let’s review the season by looking over the pitcher projections from The First Out At Third’s own system (RW23), Steamer, and ZiPS. In 2017 — RW23’s debut season — RW23 was fairly accurate with its hitter projections, while it struggled with pitchers. I only projected hitters in 2018 due to a computer malfunction, and RW23 fell behind Steamer and ZiPS. It’ll be interesting to see how well RW23 holds its own in its third season.

You can find the original 2019 pitcher projections here.

*Note: I originally projected Corey Knebel, Taylor Williams and Alex Wilson, but chose not to include them below due to the limited — or zero — time spent with the Brewers.

RHP Jhoulys Chacin

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 185 3.80 4.38 4.43 1.30 7.33 3.46 1.04 19.1% 9.0%
Steamer 180 4.66 4.61 4.46 1.42 7.60 3.33 1.30 19.2% 8.4%
ZiPS 166 4.33 4.56 1.37 7.25 3.63 1.14
Actual 103 6.01 5.88 5.03 1.56 8.80 2.18 2.18 21.5% 9.8%

Winner: Steamer

Chacin had a miserable season for the Brewers and continued his forgettable performance when he signed with the Red Sox after his release. Steamer was most down on the righty going into the season, and therefore deserves the win.

RHP Freddy Peralta

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 114 4.09 4.50 4.37 1.38 10.65 5.03 1.28 27.3% 12.9%
Steamer 127 4.35 4.36 4.27 1.38 10.49 4.62 1.29 26.7% 11.8%
ZiPS 132 4.01 4.10 1.35 12.11 5.10 1.22
Actual 85 5.29 4.18 4.15 1.46 12.18 3.92 1.59 30.1% 9.7%

Winner: ZiPS

Like Chacin, all three projection systems had a difficult time projecting the flame-throwing Peralta, but in the end, ZiPS was most accurate. Peralta began the year in the rotation (7.07 ERA) before transitioning to the bullpen (4.01 ERA). It’ll be interesting to see how the Brewers use him in 2020.

RHP Brandon Woodruff

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 122 3.73 3.68 3.87 1.32 8.71 3.38 0.83 22.7% 8.8%
Steamer 133 4.39 4.36 4.17 1.37 8.24 3.41 1.22 21.0% 8.7%
ZiPS 117 4.21 4.16 1.36 8.57 3.59 1.07
Actual 121 3.62 3.01 3.36 1.14 10.58 2.22 0.89 29.0% 6.1%

Winner: RW23

As you”ll see, RW23 was higher on Milwaukee’s pitchers — especially the young arms like Woodruff — than Steamer and ZiPS were. And in this case, RW23 was correct about Woodruff. He broke out in a big way in 2019 and is set to headline the team’s rotation next season and in years to come.

RHP Corbin Burnes

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 124 3.64 3.74 3.84 1.29 8.87 3.26 0.85 23.1% 8.5%
Steamer 134 4.48 4.44 4.24 1.39 8.23 3.54 1.24 20.9% 9.0%
ZiPS 135 3.92 4.12 1.3 8.71 3.26 1.13
Actual 49 8.82 6.09 3.37 1.84 12.86 3.67 3.12 29.8% 8.5%

Winner: N/A

After a dominant performance out of the bullpen in 2018, Burnes was a disaster this season, giving up home run after home run. RW23 was incredibly high on Burnes coming into the year, and personally, I still like him, but he’ll need to fix his fastball location issues. No projection system gets the win here.

RHP Zach Davies

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 150 4.09 4.23 4.12 1.36 7.02 3.02 1.01 18.1% 7.8%
Steamer 119 4.62 4.48 4.28 1.41 7.06 2.72 1.29 17.7% 6.8%
ZiPS 145 4.26 4.34 1.35 6.73 2.78 1.11
Actual 159 3.55 4.56 5.20 1.29 5.75 2.87 1.13 15.2% 7.6%

Winner: RW23

For the fourth time in his five big-league seasons, Davies posted a sub-4.00 ERA despite nasty peripherals. RW23 takes home the win because it took into account that while Davies doesn’t strikeout many hitters, he has a knack for limiting hard contact, which allows him to beat his peripherals.

RHP Jimmy Nelson

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 119 3.67 3.60 3.45 1.27 9.40 2.86 0.93 24.6% 7.5%
Steamer 75 4.14 3.98 3.85 1.30 8.73 2.97 1.11 22.7% 7.7%
ZiPS 121 4.30 4.47 1.38 7.94 3.41 1.19
Actual 22 6.95 5.80 5.34 1.91 10.64 6.95 1.64 24.8% 16.2%

Winner: N/A

Nelson was nearly impossible to project heading into the season. We didn’t know his health situation and what is role would be if he returned. He made three starts and made seven relief appearances, all the while struggling with control. He definitely didn’t look like the Nelson of old. Hopefully, he has a completely healthy offseason and we’ll be able to project him more accurately in 2020.

RHP Chase Anderson

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 83 4.27 4.83 4.52 1.30 7.91 3.28 1.53 20.7% 8.6%
Steamer 116 4.63 4.58 4.40 1.32 8.36 2.72 1.55 21.4% 7.0%
ZiPS 141 4.47 5.13 1.35 7.28 3.19 1.66
Actual 139 4.21 4.83 5.26 1.27 8.03 3.24 1.49 21.0% 8.5%

Winner: RW23

RW23 hit Anderson’s projection right on the nose with it’s most accurate projection yet, giving it the easy win. Anderson was who he’s mainly always been; a reliable and innings-eating pitcher. The Brewers just recently traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Chad Spanberger.

LHP Josh Hader

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 74 2.37 2.87 2.63 0.91 13.91 3.46 1.06 40.2% 10.0%
Steamer 65 2.92 2.94 2.97 1.10 13.65 3.84 0.99 36.9% 10.4%
ZiPS 73 2.95 3.08 1.10 15.34 4.30 1.23
Actual 75 2.62 3.10 2.36 0.81 16.41 2.38 1.78 47.8% 6.9%

Winner: ZiPS

Hader continued to strike every one out, but he also started giving up home runs at a high rate, which is why he set career highs in ERA and FIP. ZiPS deserves the win for accurately projecting Hader’s batted ball issues.

RHP Jeremy Jeffress

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 59 3.39 3.50 3.27 1.26 9.73 3.62 0.83 25.8% 9.6%
Steamer 40 3.38 3.40 3.34 1.28 9.59 3.35 0.78 25.2% 8.8%
ZiPS 66 3.12 3.36 1.25 9.23 3.53 0.68
Actual 52 5.02 3.96 4.40 1.37 7.96 2.94 0.87 20.4% 7.6%

Winner: N/A

No winners here once again. This is getting annoying. But how can I declare a winner when nobody projected Jeffress would implode? Jeffress dealt with injuries in spring training and throughout the year, and that contributed to a decrease in fastball velocity and fewer strikeouts. The Brewers released him in September.

LHP Alex Claudio

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 71 3.06 2.97 2.98 1.15 6.43 1.21 0.51 17.5% 3.3%
Steamer 60 3.57 3.59 3.53 1.31 6.80 2.24 0.75 17.7% 5.8%
ZiPS 75 3.33 3.44 1.2 5.83 1.78 0.59
Actual 62 4.06 4.92 4.59 1.31 6.39 3.48 1.16 16.5% 9.0%

Winner: Steamer

Claudio led all relievers in appearances with 83, but he failed to be the pitcher the Brewers hoped he would be. RW23 was hoping Claudio would recapture his magic from 2017, but instead he pitched similar to 2018. Steamer adds another to the win column.

RHP Matt Albers

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 53 4.26 4.22 3.98 1.36 8.40 3.07 1.19 21.6% 7.9%
Steamer 65 4.18 4.11 3.96 1.33 8.35 2.93 1.17 21.4% 7.5%
ZiPS 41 4.35 4.49 1.28 8.49 2.61 1.52
Actual 59 5.13 4.66 4.55 1.37 8.60 4.37 1.21 22.1% 11.2%

Winner: ZiPS

Albers’ terrible tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer is finally over, as the two-year deal he signed turned out to be one of the worst moves by general manager David Stearns. Albers is a free agent and will likely sign a prove-it deal with a rebuilding team. ZiPS was closest on Albers’ poor production.

RHP Jacob Barnes

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 55 3.50 3.61 3.82 1.33 8.61 3.98 0.68 22.5% 10.4%
Steamer 35 4.04 4.04 3.97 1.38 8.97 3.84 1.03 22.9% 9.8%
ZiPS 61 3.65 3.74 1.38 8.90 4.23 0.73
Actual 32 7.44 6.06 5.22 1.78 8.82 6.06 1.93 20.0% 13.8%

Winner: N/A

Another pitcher who imploded for the Brewers and another contest that has no winner. The Brewers designated Barnes for assignment in August and the Royals just released him. He has talent, but his command is limiting his success.

RHP Junior Guerra

IP ERA FIP XFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K% BB%
RW23 41 4.03 4.28 4.00 1.28 8.72 3.07 1.34 23.0% 8.1%
Steamer 60 3.86 3.84 3.81 1.25 9.71 3.03 1.19 25.4% 7.9%
ZiPS 119 4.46 4.72 1.39 8.09 3.86 1.36
Actual 83 3.55 4.52 4.83 1.12 8.28 3.87 1.18 22.4% 10.5%

Winner: RW23

This was close between RW23 and Steamer, but RW23 was just a little more accurate in more categories. Guerra produced a nice season and eventually became one of Craig Counsell‘s most trusted bullpen arms. He seems to have found his spot as a reliever.

FINAL RESULTS:

RW23: 4 wins

ZiPS: 3 wins

Steamer: 2 wins

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