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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
ZiPS: 3 wins
Steamer: 2 wins
RW23: 2 wins