MADISON, March 3, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 18, the Milwaukee Brewers.
2013 Record: 74-88 with a -47 run differential.
Key Additions: LHP Will Smith, 1B Mark Reynolds and RHP Francisco Rodriguez
Key Losses: RHP Burke Badenhop and OF Norichika Aoki
Projected 2014 Lineup:
SS Jean Segura
2B Scooter Gennett/Rickie Weeks
OF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Jonathan Lucroy
OF Carlos Gomez
1B Mark Reynolds
OF Khris Davis
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Wily Peralta/Tyler Thornburg
Best Case: Ryan Braun returns to the form that he demonstrated prior to 2013 and posts an OPS+ over 150. While he is a top the leader board in many offensive categories he fails to garner votes in the award balloting. Jean Segura puts together two halves of baseball similar to the first half he had in 2013. Aramis Ramirez stays healthy and hits like he has for the last ten years when healthy. Carlos Gomez becomes one of the stories of baseball as he gains a bit more plate discipline and power posting a 30/30 season.
The Brewers staff exceeds expectations as Yovani Gallardo finds the velocity that seemed to disappear last year. Matt Garza stays healthy for the full year providing above average innings for the rotation. Marco Estrada maintains his excellent walk rate but sees his strikeout percentage tick up to 26% allowing him even greater success. The Brewers surprise and jump up to second in the NL Central earning one of the NL Wild Cards.
Worst Case: Braun is loudly booed around the majors and his performance causes people to question exactly how much of his numbers were provided by PED’s. Gallardo fails to recover his missing velocity and Garza fails to stay healthy leaving the starting rotation weak at the top, and although Lohse and Estrada pitch well the team has difficulty staying in games. Aramis Ramirez misses much of the season with a variety of injuries. Khris Davis proves many analysts right and is nothing more than a fourth outfielder, making the Nori Aoki trade appear to be foolish. Jean Segura’s second half struggles carry over to 2014 and although he is above average he is not the superstar he appeared to be in the first half of 2013.The Brewers finish behind even the Cubs who begin their ascent early and finish last in the NL Central.
Prospect Watch: The Brewers system is widely considered one of the worst in baseball and on many top 100 lists there are no Brewers prospects. The best prospect in the system is widely considered to be OF Tyrone Taylor. Taylor spent last year in Class A where he posted a .274/.338/.400 slash line in 485 AB’s. RHP Jimmy Nelson is considered the top arm in the system. Nelson logged 152.1 innings across AA and AAA where he posted a 3.25 ERA with 163 K’s. The Brewers will need to hit on their top ten pick in the 2014 draft to replenish what is currently a depleted system.