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.
Zach Davies was the Brewers winningest pitcher in the two seasons prior to 2018, compiling 28 victories over that two-year time span. He won 11 games in 2016 and 17 last season.
After a slow start this year, Davies found himself on the DL in late May with a 2-5 record. With ingoing back issues hampering his return to the mound, there is question whether or not Davies will pitch for the Brew Crew again this season.
Davies last season became the 32nd pitcher in Brewers history to win 10 or more games in back-to-back seasons. He will probably, however, not get a chance to have three consecutive 10-win seasons for the club. Only 14 pitchers have done that in team history.
Here is a look at the Brewers pitchers who won 10 or more games in three or more consecutive seasons.
Ben Sheets, 5 consecutive 10-win seasons (2001-05)
Bill Travers, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1978-80)
Cal Eldred, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1992-94)
Doug Davis, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (2004-06)
Jaime Navarro, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1991-93)
Jim Colburn, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1973-75)
Jim Slaton, 5 consecutive 10-win seasons (1973-77)
Lary Sorenson, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1978-80)
Mike Caldwell, 6 consecutive 10-win seasons (1978-83)
Moose Haas, 5 consecutive 10-win seasons (1979-83)
Ricky Bones, 3 consecutive 10-win seasons (1993-95)
Scott Karl, 4 consecutive 10-win seasons (1996-99)
Teddy Higuera, 4 consecutive 10-win seasons (1985-88)
Yovani Gallardo, 5 consecutive 10-win seasons (2009-13)
Jhoulys Chacin is currently the only Brewers pitcher with 10 or more wins; he has a 10-3 record in his first season with the team. Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson were the other Brewers pitchers in addition to Davies to win 10+ games last season… they both won 12 contests. Nelson has been out the whole season after having shoulder surgery in 2017; Anderson is 7-7 on the season.
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In the game of baseball, a player can go from goat to hero (or hero to goat) in the span of one inning.
Case in point: On Thursday, July 28, I attended the Brewers-Arizona game at Miller Park. I watched as outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out in the first, fourth and sixth innings. Then, while leading off the eighth inning for the Brew Crew, Nieuwenhuis launched a solo HR. From goat (three strikeouts) to hero (a solo HR).
It got me thinking about players who for the Brewers have had similar games, contests where they struck out three or more times and had a home run.
For Nieuwenhuis, his three strikeout-home run game on July 28 was the second such game in 2016; he also did it on June 24 in a Brewers win over the Nationals. Only one other Brewers player has had three or more strikeouts and a home run in the same game this season… Chris Carter did it on May 19 against the Cubs. In the 2015 season, there was only one player who accomplished this rare feat in a game: Ryan Braun.
If we go back in Brewers’ history, there have been 88 games where a Brewers player had three or more strikeouts and a home run in the same game; that was accomplished by 42 different players. Topping the list is a couple of active players who are no longer with the team: Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks. Both had seven games in their Milwaukee careers where they had three strikeouts and a home run in the same contest.
Here’s a look at the players who had three or more such games with the Brewers.
7: Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks
6: Rob Deer
5: Richie Sexson
4: Ryan Braun
3: Jeromy Burnitz, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, Corey Hart, Ben Oglivie, Gorman Thomas, Jose Valentin, Greg Vaughn
Only once in Brewers’ history has a player had two HRs and at least three strikeouts in a game: Dale Sveum did it on June 12, 1988 when he had two home runs and struck out three times in the Brewers 16-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.
There has been 10 times where a Brewers player had four or more strikeouts in a game where they also slugged a home run. The last player to do so was Mark Reynolds on April 5, 2014. Eight different Brewers players have had four strikeouts and a home run in a game with Jeromy Burnitz and Rob Deer doing it twice in a Milwaukee uniform.
At this point in the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers season, the pitching staff has allowed twice as many home runs as the offense has hit (allowed 42, hit 21). Not a great stat to hang your hat on for the team.
But there have been times in the past when the home run has been an important part of the team’s success. And, there have been a few times when one player has supplied significant power at the plate all by himself.
There have been 19 times in the team’s history that a Brewers player has hit three home runs in a game. Thirteen different players have homered three times in a game for the Brewers on at least one occasion. Here’s a handful of stats re: Brewers players who have hit three home runs in a game.
* The first Brewer player to hit three HRs in a game was Ben Oglivie on July 8, 1979.
* The Brewers are 18-1 in games when one of their players has a three-HR game. The only loss was on May 12, 1982 versus Kansas City when Paul Motitor had three HRS in a 9-7 loss to the Royals.
* Oglivie holds the Brewers record with three games with three homers. Four other players have hit three homers in two games for Milwaukee: Jeromy Burnitz, Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson and Ryan Braun.
* Burnitz and Sexson hit three home runs in the same game on August 25, 2001, a 9-4 win over Arizona.
* The last Brewers player to hit three jacks in a game was Braun on April 8, 2014.
* Most RBIs in a game when a Brewers player hit three HRs is seven; both Corey Hart (5/23/2011) and Braun (4/8/2014) had seven RBI in their three-HR games on those dates.
* A Brewers player had hit three-HRs in a game three times against the Detroit Tigers, most of any opponent.
* A Brewers player had a three-HR game four times in 2001, most of any season.
* Of the 19 times a Brewers player hit three HRs in a game, 11 happened at home, eight happened on the road.
* Here’s a look at which months these 19 occurrences happened for the Brew Crew: April-5, May-5, June-1, July-4, August-1, September-3.
* Of the Brewer players who hit three HRs in a game, six were playing left field in the game, five were playing first base, four were playing right field, two were playing third base, and one each were playing second base and shortstop.
* Of the Brewer players who hit three HRs in a game, five were batting third in the order, four each were batting fourth or fifth in the order, two were hitting in the sixth spot, one each were hitting first, second, seventh and ninth in the order. Dale Sveum was hitting ninth in the order when he had three HRs on July 17, 1987.
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April 30, 2014: The Brewers end the month with a 20-8 record, best in the majors. They also became the fourth team in MLB history to win 20 games by the end of April.
April 30, 2015: The Brewers end the month 5-17, worst record in the majors.
Yes, the tale of two Aprils. Considering how the Brewers faltered at the end of the season last year after being in first place for five months, many Brewer faithful are speculating that the team is just running a reverse on 2014 and will finish strong to win the N.L. Central pennant. If it was only that easy.
Not that anyone needs a reminder as to why the Brewers have stumbled out of the gate in 2015, here are a few stats to show the difference between the April of 2014 and this April for the team.
* Last season the Brewers were 17-0 in games in April when they scored four or more runs; this season, 5-3. Last year they were 3-8 when they scored three or fewer runs in an April contest; this year they are 0-14. They are tied with the Phillies for the major league lead with most games with three or fewer runs.
* Last year the Brewers had a nine-game winning streak in April and their longest April losing streak was two games. This April their longest winning streak was one game and they had an eight-game losing streak in the month.
* Last year’s strong April was fueled by a 11-2 record on the road; this year they are 2-7 on the road. They were 9-6 at home in 2014; in 2015 they are 3-10 at Miller Park.
* Since September 1 of last season, the Brewers are 14-34 (a .292 winning percentage). Their 14 wins are by far the fewest in that timeframe of any of the 30 MLB teams. Arizona and Atlanta have won only 18 since September 1, 2014, Philadelphia and Oakland have won only 19.
* Milwaukee has allowed 10 or more runs in a game three times in 2015; in 2014 it happened only once in April.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp