It’s easy to point the finger at Ryan Braun for the Brewers sub-par season, but they had other issues. They were trying to move on from Prince Fielder and new players were pressured to contribute right away.
Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura had breakout seasons and look to improve further in 2014. The ceiling is high for both players and they could both find themselves on the National League All-Star team.
Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati are all projected to battle for the NL Central crown. Where does that leave Milwaukee?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Milwaukee Brewers.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 74-88
Key Additions: SP Matt Garza, RP Francisco Rodriguez (again), 1B Lyle Overbay & 3B Mark Reynolds
Key Losses: OF Norichika Aoki, RP Burke Badenhop & RP Chris Narveson,
Interleague Schedule: AL East + Minnesota Twins
Projected Starters: Jonathan Lucroy, Juan Francisco, Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura, Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez & Ryan Braun
Projected Starting Rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada & Wily Peralta
Closer: Jim Henderson
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Khris Davis – I hate listing Khris Davis as a sleeper, since he had an amazing 150 at-bat run late last season. Is that too small of a sample size for fantasy owners to take him seriously? It’s possible, but he’s already 26 and has shown the same power in the minors. He hasn’t had 500+ at-bats in a season since 2011 in Double-A, so that could be an issue. Chris Davis (no relation) didn’t really piece things together until last season (his age 26 season). Davis is 26 and is worth a flyer. His upside is hard to ignore and I’d rather swing and miss than to see him on someone else’s team flourishing.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: 1B Hunter Morris – If Milwaukee didn’t sign Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay to minor league contracts (and mostly likely one or both end up on the team), I would list Morris as a possible sleeper. Well, those signings both happened and it leaves Morris in a weird situation. He was the organization’s #2 prospect after the 2012 season, but plateaued in Triple-A last year. He still hit 24 homers, but Milwaukee did not expect him to only hit .247. Reynolds and Overbay are clearly one-year rentals and he should be battling Juan Francisco for the job in 2015. I still think Morris gets a call-up at some point, but he may not be much of a factor this season.
Team Analysis: Pittsburgh took a leap in 2013 and left Milwaukee as the odd team out. Milwaukee was figuring out life without Prince Fielder and had to deal with Ryan Braun’s involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. It was a lost season with a few glimmers of hope. Carlos Gomez was an MVP candidate, Jean Segura developed into one of the best shortstops in the National League and Khris Davis showed promise. They looked to improve their starting rotation this offseason and signed Matt Garza. He’s familiar with the NL Central from his time on the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee is in a pickle. They find themselves not good enough to contend with the Reds, Cardinals and Pittsburgh, but not as bad as the Chicago Cubs. They should already have the #4 spot in the NL Central etched in stone. They could surprise people and get near .500, but their competition is too stiff. It’s hard to win 81 games when you play St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh a total of 54 times.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 80 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 73-89 (4th NL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.