Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are the Brewers a decent team?

Last place teams are usually last place because they're bad at baseball. In some rare cases a team will be in the cellar due to playing in a brutal division or exceptionally bad luck, but even then it's safe to assume you are what your record says you are. That said, I find myself progressively less disheartened by the Brewers' feeble record.

The month of May was one of the worst in franchise history. When the 28-game dumpster fire ended and the smoke cleared, the Brewers had gone 6-22 and were without hope for the playoffs. However, if, like me, you simply pretend May never happened you'll notice the Brewers are 46-45. Granted, the Brewers are also undefeated if you ignore all of their losses, but stick with me here.

Despite injuries and suspensions the Brewers are 7th in the NL in OPS and 4th in homers. Overall their pitching has been surprisingly effecting, collectively posting a 100 OPS+ and shutting out opponents 10 times since June 15. They've also yet to lose a game when leading after 8 innings, which would have been helpful last season.

The Brewers have also benefited from outstanding individual performances. Carlos Gomez leads the NL in WAR (6.2), Jean Segura leads the NL in hits (144), Jonathan Lucroy is a Jedi master at framing pitches and is batting .309/.357/.547 with 13 homers since May 15. On the rubber, Kyle Lohse is earning his paycheck with a 3.26 ERA and Wily Peralta has made an unlikely transition into a pitcher you're excited to watch, posting a  2.62 ERA in his last 75.2 IP. The performances by the core talent are being supplemented by capable baseballing from Juan Francisco (126 OPS+ with the Brewers, we'll forget about the defense for now), Caleb Gindl, and Scooter Gennett.

Though I'm nowhere near declaring the Brewers title contenders for 2014, I'm also no longer bracing for a 1993-2004 stretch of futility. They have a promising collection of core players and depth that, when paired with health and better fortune, should be pretty fun to watch. All things considered (except May), the Brewers are the most deceptively decent team in majors. Good luck finding higher praise than that.

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