Happy Opening Day!! As baseball fans, we all hear/say/discuss similar topics every season, don’t we? It’s always, “How’s the pitching staff? Who’s our closer? Who’d we bring in? Who’d we lose? Can we make a run?”. Well, Milwaukee Brewers fans, I’m here to tell you the 2022 season (outside of injury) comes down to one simple answer: Christian Yelich. I’m not sure if this is overly simplified or slightly dramatic but the Milwaukee Brewers CAN NOT win a World Series this year unless Outfielder, Christian Yelich contends for the MVP.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the pieces that are in place:
MLB’s BEST starters
Sorry, Mets fans, but baseball’s best pitching staff plays home games in Wisconsin (even when DeGrom gets healthy). No other club can go 1-SIX like the Brew Crew. The top of the rotation is lights out: Cy Young winner, Corbin Burnes (11-5, 2.43 in 2021), Brandon Woodruff (2.56 ERA) and Freddy Peralta (10-5, 2.81). Don’t sleep on Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer & youngsters like Aaron Ashby, Alec Bettinger, Dylan File, & Ethan Small.
Baseball’s BEST Bullpen
Who’s been better than Josh Hader over the last 4 years? Answer: Nobody. He’s been the National League’s Relief Pitcher of the Year 3 out of the last 4 years. The only time he DIDN’T win the award (in 2021)? His current teammate, Devin Williams won it. As long as Williams doesn’t “celebrate” too hard, he & his “Airbender” should pair with Hader as the best back end in in all of baseball.
A GREAT manager
Manager Craig Counsell is the best manager in Brewers history. You can’t really argue it. If we put long-time Brewers fans into time machines and sent them back to 1998, their minds would be BLOWN to hear this: He’s taken Milwaukee to the playoffs the last FOUR years.
All of the right pieces
Keston Hiura had a GREAT spring. Hunter Renfroe replaces Avisail Garcia & will hit 30 home runs. Andrew McCutchen will mostly DH & crush left-handed pitching. Willy Adames has all-star written all over him. Yes, there are lots of other factors that play into a 162 game season. But injuries aside, as long as everyone lives up to potential, Milwaukee should win the NL Central. Been there. Done that.
Yelich MUST find “it” again
All of the above stuff is cool but the next step for the Brewers is to get to (AND WIN) a World Series which they CAN NOT win if Christian Yelich plays like he has the last two years. His MVP season of 2018 (and what would’ve been MVP #2 in 2019) seems like a lifetime ago. Since then, Yelich has been BAD. In 2018/2019 he hit .327 & smacked 80 home runs. Since the injury in late 2019, the former MVP has 21 home runs (9 came in the 60 game covid-shortened 2020) and is hitting under .225 (vs .329 & .326). His WAR has dropped from 7.6 (2018) & 7.1 (2019) to .1 in 2020 (not a typo) and 1.3 in 2021.
The Brewers offense has often disappeared the last few years when they needed it the most but last year it happened to Milwaukee at the worst possible time: the postseason. Atlanta shut the Brewers offense DOWN. It was painful. You know what they needed? An MVP who can come up with big time hits at big time moments. In 2022, that NEEDS to be Christian Yelich if Milwaukee wants to win their first World Series in franchise history. Yelich is being paid MVP money. He knows this. Counsell knows this. General Manager David Stearns knows this. Owner Mark Attanasio knows this. Fans know this. He needs to start playing like it or this is going to be a wash/rinse/repeat of last year.
On paper, the Brewers have almost everything they need to win a ring. They just need their “best player” to play like it or the season will end early in October…again.
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