The Milwaukee Brewers made the playoffs for the fourth straight season last year, winning the National League Central with a record of 95-67. Unfortunately for the Brew Crew, the lack of offense once again bit them in the postseason as they fell to the eventual champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. Milwaukee was shutout twice and scored a total of six runs in the four games. Pitching hasn’t been a problem. They are stacked with arguably the best top three of any rotation in the big leagues. However, they need to score some runs, and this year they may do just that.
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The Brewers added a couple of outfielders to the mix for 2022. They also brought back Brad Boxberger who pitched well in relief for them last season. While Milwaukee never goes too crazy in the offseason adding players, they picked up some power which they sorely needed.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, One Years/$8.5 Million
Cutch may not be the player he once was, but he definitely gives Milwaukee some offense. The 35-year-old runs last season with Philadelphia and had a solid .778 OPS. His walk rate remained excellent in 2021 at 14.1 percent. McCutchen hit the ball in the air more last season at 30.5 percent which is his highest rate since 2011 so the power should stay especially in Milwaukee. Cutch also had the lowest BABIP of his career at .242. While that won’t likely jump to the .300’s like his younger days, it should certainly improve by 40 points. The Brewers got a wily veteran who can still swing the lumber and that is exactly what they need.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Acquired in Trade from Boston Red Sox
After a rough year with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020, Renfroe bounced back to his old self last season with the Red Sox hitting 31 bombs and driving in a career-high 96 runs. Right before the lockout, the Brewers sent Jackie Bradley Jr., recent third-round pick Alex Binelas, and David Hamilton to the Sox for Renfroe. They needed to replace some power they lost, which we will get to in a minute, and Milwaukee did just that by acquiring the 30-year-old slugger.
The Brewers cleared out some of their bullpen. While they re-signed the aforementioned Boxberger, they let Hunter Strickland and Daniel Norris walk to the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs respectively. Starter Brett Anderson is still a free agent and made 24 starts for Milwaukee last season. Time will tell if the Brewers bring him back. They have some depth in the rotation especially if youngster Aaron Ashby can fill that role.
Eduardo Escobar, 3B/2B, New York Mets
The veteran infielder was acquired at the deadline last season from the Arizona Diamondbacks. While he didn’t bring all of his power over in the deal, Escobar still slashed .268/.342/.458 in 199 plate appearances with the Brewers. Milwaukee knew he was a rental for their playoff run last year, and Escobar signed a two-year deal with the New York Mets in the offseason.
Avisail Garcia, OF, Miami Marlins
Garcia led the Brewers in home runs last year with 29. While Renfroe and McCutchen should replace that production, it was a little surprising to see Milwaukee buy out Garcia’s contract for $1.5 million allowing him to hit free agency. He will take his power to Miami on a four-year deal worth $53 million with a team option for 2026.
The Brewers are favorites to take the NL Central again, as they should be. On paper, the St. Louis Cardinals look to be the only real challenge for the division crown. Milwaukee needs to really put it together when it counts in October. Unfortunately, they have run into buzzsaws the past three years in the playoffs, losing each time to the eventual World Series champions (Nationals 2019, Dodgers 2020, Braves, 2021).
Craig Counsell‘s squad finishes the season with a franchise record 97 wins and the second seed in the NL. The Brewers have the pitching. As far as their hitting goes, they have Rowdy Tellez and Willy Adames for a whole season as they both hit well in their limited time last year with the team. Cutch and Renfroe should easily replace the production lost from Garcia, Bradley Jr. and Escobar. If they can get Keston Hiura to remember how to hit and Luis Urias settles in at third base, the Brewers should run away with the Central and fight the Dodgers for the top seed in the NL.
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