Everyone looks at the acquisitions or lineup shuffling as the primary reasons for the Milwaukee Brewers’ offensive turnaround. The trades have undoubtedly helped spark the offense in the second half. Trading for veterans Carlos Santana and Mark Canha has certainly helped Milwaukee.
However, the biggest difference has been the production of a Brewers’ constant in 2023: William Contreras.
Brewers catcher spurring an offensive turnaround
For most of the season, the Brewers have been near or at the bottom of the National League in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. There are a few reasons for the Brewers’ offensive turnaround.
Since the aforementioned Santana and Canha have helped spark the offense, the offense’s biggest room for improvement was on players who were expected to produce entering the year, not producing at a high clip.
Tyrone Taylor has been on a nice run offensively since returning from his second IL stint. Willy Adames is starting to hit. But having a reliable thumper in the lineup consistently has been huge. Since August 5, the Brewers have a top-5 offense in runs scored and second in on-base percentage.
Brewers since Aug. 18th:
23-9 Record (1st)
.351 OBP (2nd)
5.81 Runs Per Game (5th)
1.00 Whip (1st)
2.71 ERA (1st)
— Jake Reetz (@jajareetz) September 23, 2023
Contreras, while he has been better in the second half, has been pretty solid all year for the Brewers. Contreras is ranked 15th in MLB in WAR. It’s amazing the Brewers were able to get Contreras for only surrendering prospect Esteury Ruiz this offseason.
Contreras raking in second half
While the Brewers’ best first-half hitter, Christian Yelich, has struggled in the second half, the Brewers’ offense has taken off. Why? William Contreras.
The Brewers’ backstop has been a terror and has taken the mantle of best hitter on the Brewers. Taking Yelich’s place as the team’s best hitter has been pivotal. On the year, Contreras has smacked 16 homers, driven in 76 runs, and scored 82 runs with a .286 batting average. His OPS+ is 124, has a .365 on-base percentage, is tied for ninth in MLB with 37 doubles, and has an OPS over .820.
In the second half, Contreras is slashing .311/.385/.492 for an OPS of .877, after an .OPS of .773 in the first half. He has eight homers and 44 RBI in 63 second-half games, while in the first half, he had nine homers and 32 RBI.
Contreras coming through in clutch situations
To start the year, Contreras struggled mightily with runners in scoring position, going 3 for his first 24. Since then, though, Contreras is becoming known as Clutch-reras. The backstop is a force for the Brewers behind the plate and at the plate.
After not coming through for the most part in RISP situations, now pitchers can’t get Contreras out, and the catcher is who the Brewers want up most in that spot. Contreras is now hitting .347 in those situations (42 for 121) with a .946 OPS. After starting 3 for 24, he is now 39 for his last 97 in those spots(!). Contreras is also good with two outs and RISP, hitting .304 (17 for 56).
Another plus for Contreras has been something the Brewers have struggled with hitting lefties.
Contreras is boosting the Brewers by hammering left-handed pitching. Contreras is mashing lefties at a .361 clip with a .649 slugging percentage and 1.097 OPS.
It all adds up to an offensive turnaround
One man can power an offense, but it takes more to really be an impactful offense. Contreras has been the engine, spurring the Brewers in the second half. Trade deadline acquisitions and some improvement from guys like Tyrone Taylor have helped. But every offense needs that guy to produce at a high clip, and Contreras has done that. He has been a rock for the Brewers and has been mashing in the second half, all while continuing to be solid with the pitching staff. Contreras has been pivotal in spurring the Brewers’ second-half offensive turnaround.