Batting woes a major factor in Brewers non-playoff 2022 season
It took until Game #160 this year, but with Philadelphia’s win over Houston on Monday, October 3, the Brewers were finally eliminated from the 2022 MLB post-season.
In the upcoming weeks and months, the team and its fans will spend endless hours dissecting the season to answer what went wrong. Likely targets will be a shaky bullpen, a trade of Josh Hader, injuries among the starting pitchers, and other factors.
Many people, however, will likely point to one aspect of the team 2022 performance for not making the playoffs: hitting, or lack thereof.
Before we get to the hitting woes, let’s start with a few positive stats. A lot of baseball pundits will tell you that pitching and defense win championships. In many respects, the Brewers had that covered. Defensively, they had 91 errors, the second fewest (they had 89 errors in 1992) in a full season for the team in its 54-year history. Their .985 fielding average was tied for the second-best in team history (the 1992 squad tops the list at .986).
On the pitching front, 52 saves for the season were second most in team history as were 1,530 strikeouts, and the team WHIP of 1.216 was also second lowest in Brewers history.
So, you could make a case that the Brew Crew had their defense and pitching set up for success in 2022.
Now to the hitting. Consider this:
- Brewers .235 batting average was 10th of 15 teams in the National League.
- Brewers 2022 batting average of .235 was tied for the fifth worst in team history
- Their 1,464 strikeouts were the fifth most in team history.
Individually, the Brewers did not have one hitter with an average over .260 (with a significant numbers of plate appearances). Sure, they were third in the majors with 219 HRs, but that was one of the few offensive stats where they were near the top of MLB leaders.
Using the Stathead feature on the baseball-reference.com website, there is a telling stat that exposes the Brewers batting average woes from this past season. From 1969-2022, Stathead revealed that 437 Brewers played in 100 or more games in a season. It listed the batting averages for each player, from Paul Molitor’s .353 average in 1987 (#1) to Jackie Bradley’s .163 batting average in 2021 (#437). Of the nine players who played in 100 or more games for the Brewers this year, none finished in the Top 200 for batting average in Brewers history. Highest finisher from 2022 was Hunter Renfroe who is listed at 263rd on the list with his .255 average.
In fact, of the Bottom 100 on the list (from 338th place to 437th place) six players from 2022 were listed:
Luis Urias, 354th, .239
Willy Adames, 360th, .238
Andrew McCutchen, 367th, .237
Jace Peterson, 369th, .236
Tyrone Taylor, 376th, .233
Rowdy Tellez, 409th, .219
It was the first time in team history that the Brew Crew did not have a player with a batting average of .260 or above for the season (minimum of 100 games played).
Add to this the fact that the primary catching chores were handled by two players, Omar Narvaez and Victor Caratini, who although they did not qualify for the above lists because they played in less than 100 games on the season (Caratini, 95 and Narvaez, 84) had less than stellar batting averages on the year… Narvaez ended the year at .206 while Caratini finished the season at .199.
Hopeful to return to the post-season in 2023, the Brewers will clearly have to address their hitting. They seem to have the pitching needed (save for some rework of the bullpen), and their defense was solid in ’22. Hitting, however, is a concern.
Today’s Sportstat: June 25, 2020
SIX STATS you may not know: Looking back at the 1998 Home Run Chase between McGwire and Sosa
I recently watched “Long Gone Summer,” an ESPN “30-for-30” that looked at the 1998 MLB Home Run Race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and their quest to pass Roger Maris’ long-standing single-season home run record of 61 homers. McGwire ended that year hitting 70 while Sosa finished with 66.
Here are six stats you may not know about that home run race.
- As stated above, McGwire led the league with 70 HRs and Sosa was second with 66. But do you know who came in third in the National League that year in home runs? If you guessed San Diego’s Greg Vaughn, you are correct. Vaughn ended the campaign with 50 HRs that year. In addition to McGwire, Sosa and Vaughn, there were also two more N.L. players who had 40 homers that season: Colorado’s Vinny Castilla (46) and Atlanta’s Andre Galarraga (44). There were, however, eight players who hit 40 or more home runs in the American League that season: Ken Griffey, Seattle, 56; Albert Belle, White Sox, 49; Jose Canseco, Toronto, 46; Manny Ramirez, Cleveland, 45; Juan Gonzalez, Texas, 45; Rafael Palmeiro, Texas, 43; Alex Rodriguez, Seattle, 42; and Mo Vaughn, Boston, 40.
- The most HRs McGwire had hit in a season before his 70 in 1998 was 58 the previous season. He then hit 65 in 1999. The most Sosa had hit in a season before the 66 he slugged in ’98 was 40 in 1996. The most he hit after that ’98 season was 64 in 2001.
- McGwire not only led the National League in HRs in 1998 but he also led the league in walks with 162. Sosa led the league in strikeouts that season with 171.
- In the 1998 season, the longest McGwire went without hitting an HR was eight games. The longest Sosa went without a homer was 11 games. The longest stretch of games with a home run for McGwire was four (he did it twice). Sosa had a season-long streak of five games with a home run.
- When their careers came to an end, Sosa won the battle between the two with 609 career home runs. McGwire ended his career with 583.
- It’s interesting to note that both McGwire and Sosa each hit HR #64 that season off the same pitcher, Milwaukee’s Rafael Roque. On September 18 in Milwaukee, Roque surrendered HR #64 to McGwire. Five days later, also in Milwaukee, Sosa hit #64 off of Roque. (At that time I was a Scoreboard Statistician for the Milwaukee Brewers working at County Stadium. Part of my job was keeping a scorecard for games. I worked both the games on September 18 and September 23 and kept both scorecards from those two games, with a note on the card that both McGwire and Sosa had hit HR #64 in those games. I gave those cards to my daughter, Amy, who put the scorecards in a frame. A nice piece of memorabilia!)
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Today’s Sportstat: June 22, 2020
How will the new Brewers players’ debuts match up with other Brew Crew debuts?
When (or if) the 2020 Major League Baseball season begins, the Brewers will have several new players who have never suited up in a Brewers uniform who will likely play important roles for the club. Players like outfielder Avisail Garcia, catcher Omar Narvaez, infielders Justin Smoak and Luis Urias, and pitchers Brett Anderson, Eric Lauer and Josh Lindblom will be making their debut with the Brewers in 2020 (hopefully).
The question: When they do make their debuts, will they start with a bang or a whimper? When compared to other Brewers, will any of these new players have a Brew Crew debut like Carlos Gomez? After coming to the Brewers in a trade with the Twins, Gomez made his Brewers debut on April 5, 2010 with four hits in five at-bats, a solo HR and a stolen base.
Or will any of the pitchers have a debut like Yovani Gallardo? Making his MLB and Brewers debut on June 18, 2007, Gallardo was the starting pitcher and winner in the Brewers 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants. Gallardo went 6.1 innings and allowed only four hits and struck out four in the victory.
Let’s take a look at some of the Brewers debuts for some of the club’s top players over the years. Baseball-Reference.com on the Brewers’ team page lists the team’s Top 24 players in franchise history based on each players’ WAR rating (WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement). The stat gives a number to each players’ overall contribution to the team. Robin Yount tops the Brewers franchise with a 77.3 WAR, followed by Paul Molitor (60.0) and Ryan Braun is third (46.8).
Here is a snapshot of the top 24 Brewers player’s debut with the team.
Robin Yount, April 5, 1974: 0-for-1, walk
Paul Molitor, April 7, 1978: 1-for-5, one RBI
Ryan Braun, May 25, 2007: 1-for-4, two RBIs
Cecil Cooper, April 7, 1977: 1-for-4
Teddy Higuera, April 23, 1985: 5.1 IP, seven hits, 4 ER, five strikeouts (no decision-starting pitcher)
Don Money, April 6, 1973: 0-for-3
Jeff Cirillo, May 11, 1994: 0-for-0, came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, no at-bat
Ben Sheets, April 5, 2001: 6.0 IP, six hits, 5 ER, five strikeouts (starting pitcher, losing pitcher)
George Scott, April 15, 1972: 0-for-4, one RBI
Jim Gantner, September 3, 1976: 2-for-4, one run scored, one walk
Geoff Jenkins, April 24, 1998: 2-for-4, solo HR, two runs scored
Ben Oglivie, April 8, 1978: 2-for-5, two runs scored, one walk
Carlos Gomez, April 5, 2010: 4-for-5, double, solo HR, two runs scored, stolen base
Sixto Lezcano, September 10, 1974: 3-for-5, one RBI
Chris Bosio, August 3, 1986: 3.0 IP, three hits, one earned run, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Gorman Thomas, April 6, 1973: 1-for-3, triple
Yovani Gallardo, June 18, 2007: 6.1 IP, four hits, 3 ER, 4 strikeouts (Starting pitcher, got the win)
Bill Wegman, September 14, 1985: 7.0 IP, five hits, two earned runs, four strikeouts (starting pitcher, no decision)
Mike Caldwell, June 19, 1977: 2 IP, no hits, one walk, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Jonathan Lucroy, May 21, 2010: 1-for-2
Prince Fielder, June 13, 2005: 0-for-4
Jeromy Burnitz, September 3, 1996: 0-for-4
Moose Haas, September 8, 1976: 3 IP, three hits, one earned run, two strikeouts (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Corey Hart, May 25, 2004: 0-for-1, strikeout
In addition to the above 24 players, the Brewers have five more players who played with the team who are members of baseball’s Hall of Fame (in addition to Yount and Molitor): Rollie Fingers, Hank Aaron, Ted Simmons, Trevor Hoffman and Don Sutton. Their Brewers debuts went as follows:
Rollie Fingers, April 11, 1981: 1.2 IP, two hits, no earned runs, one strikeout, one walk (came in as a reliever, got the save)
Hank Aaron, April 8, 1975: 0-for-3, walk
Ted Simmons, April 11, 1981: 0-for-4, one run scored, one strikeout
Trevor Hoffman, April 27, 2009: one inning pitched, no hits, no earned runs (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Don Sutton, 9 IP, complete game, eight hits allowed, four earned runs, two walks, three strikeouts (starting pitcher, got the loss)
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Today’s Sportstat: May 5, 2020
Ryan Braun was the Brewers #1 player in the 2010s… who do you have at #2?
If we go based on the numbers, there should not be much discussion about who was the Brewers top player last decade, 2010-19. The obvious answer is Ryan Braun.
Throughout the 2010s, Braun led the Brewers in almost every batting statistic. But after Braun, who would you pick as the second best player for the Brewers last decade. In my mind, and based on strictly the numbers, there are probably three candidates for the Number Two spot.
Some of you might pick Christian Yelich as the top player for the Brewers in the last 10 years. There’s no doubt that what he has accomplished with the Brew Crew over the last two seasons in Milwaukee is remarkable. But we’re taking about the total of 10 years, 2010-19. While Yelich has an MVP and a runner-up honor for that same award in two seasons, he does not have the numbers totals to make a dent in the Brewers players with the highest offensive stats over the past 10 years.
Let’s start with offensive totals. Here’s a look at the two players who topped the Brewers in several offensive categories from 2010-19.
Most at-bats: Braun, 4796… Jonathan Lucroy, 2838
Most runs: Braun, 770… Carlos Gomez, 364
Most hits: Braun, 1410… Lucroy, 806
Most doubles: Braun, 297… Lucroy, 157
Most triples: Braun, 29… Gomez, 25
Most home runs: Braun, 241… Rickie Weeks, 88 (how many of you thought Weeks had the second most homers for the Brewers from 2010-19?)
Most runs batted in: Braun, 811… Lucroy, 387
Most stolen bases: Braun, 166… Gomez, 152
Highest batting average (min. 300 games played): Braun, .294… Nori Aoki, .287
Highest on-base percentage (min. 300 games played): Prince Fielder, .408… Braun, .359
Highest slugging percentage (min. 300 games played): Braun, .519… Fielder, .518
I would put either Lucroy or Gomez as candidates for the second best player for the Brewers last decade behind Braun of the everyday players.
Now let’s look at the pitching stats for 2010-19.
Most games pitched: Jeremy Jeffress, 301… Francisco Rodriguez, 263
Most complete games: Kyle Lohse, 4… Yovani Gallardo, 3
Most wins: Gallardo, 67… Wily Peralta, 47
Most saves: John Axford, 105… Rodriguez, 95
Most innings pitched: Gallardo, 969.1… W. Peralta, 704.2
Most strikeouts: Gallardo, 901… Jimmy Nelson, 578
ERA (minimum 200 innings pitched: Josh Hader, 2.42… Jeffress, 2.66
My third candidate for the #2 spot would be Gallardo. Much like Yelich, you could make a case for a pitcher like Josh Hader, but his numbers are limited to only three seasons in Milwaukee last decade.
So who would you choose as the second-best player for the Brewers last decade?
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Today’s Sportstat: May 18, 2020
Opening Day starters for the Brewers
Opening Day for baseball in 2020 is still a mystery. That shouldn’t, however, stop us from looking at some previous Opening Day lineups for the Brewers.
First, did you know that the last time the Brewers had the same player start at first base on Opening Day was all the way back in 2010 and 2011? Prince Fielder was the Opening Day first baseman in those two years for the Brewers; since then, the same player has not started at first in consecutive years.
(In case you were wondering, here are the Opening Day starters at first base for the Brewers since Fielder started at that position in 2010 and 2011: 2012-Mat Gamel, 2013-Alex Gonzalez, 2014-Lyle Overbay, 2015-Adam Lind, 2016-Chris Carter, 2017-Eric Thames, 2018-Ryan Braun, 2019-Jesus Aguilar.)
Here’s a breakdown for the last time a player started on Opening Day at the same position in consecutive seasons for the Brew Crew.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, 2014-15
First Base: Prince Fielder, 2010-11
Second Base: Jonathan Villar, 2017-18
Shortstop: Orlando Arcia, 2018-19
Third Base: Travis Shaw, 2018-19
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 2016-17
Center Field: Lorenzo Cain, 2018-19
Right Field: Domingo Santana, 2017-18
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, 2013-14
Secondly, did you know that Jim Gantner has the most Opening Day starts at one position for the Brewers? Gantner was the Opening Day second baseman in 11 seasons. Second on the list is Robin Yount who had 10 Opening Day starts for the Brewers at shortstop. Yount tops the club with the most Opening Days starts at any position with 19 (he made 10 Opening Day starts at shortstop, eight in center field, and one in left field). In his 20-year career, the only year he did not make an Opening Day start for the Brewers was in 1978.
Here are the players with the most Opening Day starts at each position in Brewers history.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy and B.J. Surhoff, 5 each
First Base: Cecil Cooper, 9
Second Base: Jim Gantner, 11
Shortstop: Robin Yount, 10
Third Base: Don Money, 7
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 9
Center Field: Robin Yount, 8
Right Field; Sixto Lezcano and Jeromy Burnitz, 5 each
Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor, 4
Starting Pitcher: Ben Sheets, 6
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