Milwaukee Brewers Season Recapby Alex Kielar November 3, 2021 2 comments
The Milwaukee Brewers saw everything come together for them to essentially run away with the NL Central, winning 95 games which were one short of their franchise record of 96 wins in 2011. The only sort of pushback they got in the division was from the St. Louis Cardinals‘ 17-game winning streak towards the end of the season. They ultimately ran into the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, where they lost in four games. The Braves were just hot at the right time and rode that wave all the way to hosting the Commisioner’s trophy last night.
Manager: Craig Counsell
Position: First in NL Central
Postseason: Lost in NLDS
The pitching side of things was the main catalyst behind the Brewers’ success this season, as their top three starters were legitimate Cy Young candidates. Each of them in Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta had a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.000 WHIP, while Burnes (234) and Woodruff (211) each had over 200 strikeouts. Peralta was just short of 200 punchouts with 189 in 142 1/3 innings. Milwaukee’s rotation overall was second in the majors to the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 3.81 SIERA, 18.5 percent strikeout to walk rate, and a 3.55 xFIP.
It was a bit of a struggle hitting-wise, as they were more towards the bottom third of the majors in most hitting categories. The former MVP Christian Yelich had a down year, which was one of the main reasons the offense wasn’t up to par. But they did enough to win 95 games, just not enough against the also very tough Braves pitching staff in the Division Series. They took Game 1, 2-1, behind a Rowdy Tellez homer, but went on to lose the next three. The Brewers got shut out in Games 2 and 3, before being eliminated in Game 4 by a score of 5-4. The usual dependable Josh Hader gave up a go-ahead homer in the eighth to Freddie Freeman.
Most Valuable Player, Starting Pitcher of the Year: Corbin Burnes
The lead ace of a pile of three aces for the Brewers, Burnes will likely finish top two in the NL Cy Young voting. The right-hander led all MLB starters with a 7.5 fWAR, 1.63 FIP, 2.61 SIERA, and 12.61 strikeouts per nine. The Bakersfield, California native got the better of Charlie Morton in a pitcher’s duel in Game 1 of the NLDS, as he pitched six shutout innings while striking out six and allowing just two hits. It was a tremondous season for the fourth year pitcher, backing up an also solid 2020 season. After a good rookie year as a reliever in 2018, Burnes had an abysmal 2019. But he now has fully cemented himself as a top starter for the Brewers.
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Josh Hader
Outside of the go-ahead homer he gave up to Freeman in Game 4 of the NLDS, Hader was nails all season. He was fifth in the league with 34 saves (blew just one save). Among relievers, he was second with a 1.23 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, and first with a 2.09 SIERA and 15.65 strikeouts per nine.
Best Hitter of the Year: Willy Adames
The Brewers’ season completely flipped around when they traded for Adames on May 21 from the Tampa Bay Rays. On that day, their record sat at 21-23, and then they went 74-44 the rest of the regular season. In the 99 games with the Brewers, the 26-year-old hit .285 with 20 homers, 58 RBI, and an .886 OPS. He missed time in September with a strained left quadraceps. But it was his presence in the lineup for a lot of the season that provided them a boost. In the NLDS, Adames went 5-for-17 (.294) but also struck out nine times.
Best Fielder of the Year: Avisail Garcia
The Brewers signed Garcia to a two-year contract before the 2020 season and he has been one of their better defensive players over that time. In 2021, he logged over 1,000 innings in right field and was second on the team with 8 DRS and led the team with a 7.8 UZR.
Comeback Player of the Year: Omar Narvaez
Narvaez had an absolutely terrible 2020 season as he went just 19-for-108 (.176) with two homers and 10 RBI. He drastically improved this season, slashing .266/.342/.402 with 11 homers, 49 RBI, 20 doubles, and a 99 OPS+.
A number of the Brewers’ free agents are pitchers, including Brett Anderson who has been a key depth starter for them the last two years. Brad Boxberger and Hunter Strickland are two key relivers who they may want to bring back, while both John Axford and Daniel Norris are probably gone. Eduardo Escobar was acquired in July and there is some interest in him being brought back despite a crowded infield. Catcher Manny Piña is the longest tenured Brewer, but with Luke Maile and Mario Feliciano ready to come up from Triple-A, he is likely gone. Milwaukee will continue to ride their starting rotation as they look to repeat as NL Central champions and make a deeper run into October.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images