Nine games have come and gone and the Brewers offense is currently taking a lot of heat from fans. For some fans, the lack of production is bringing out infuriating memories of what has been an inconsistent Brewers offense over the past few years. To begin the season, they have been shut out twice and put up just one run on two other occasions. Surely someone on the Brewers staff is concerned about this, right?
Right now, Brewer players and coaches have acknowledged that they know they are not playing their best offensive baseball. For example, during the Oriole’s series in a post game interview when asked about the Brewers starting off hitting 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position Hunter Renfroe said ” It’s game four.” Additionally, manager Craig Counsell had this to say about the offense “You need extra-base hits for run production. That’s just what we’ve been lacking right now.”
It is true that the sample size for 2022 is very small. This means we cannot draw any big conclusions about how the offense or a specific player will perform the remainder of the season. Typically it takes 150-200 at bats before you know what kind of season a player is going to have.
However, we can take a look at some of the contributing factors that is leading to fan frustration.
Despite quality at-bats, good results have been hard to come by.
If you are going to take one thing away from the first nine games, it is that the Brewers at-bats have not been bad. According to baseball savant, they currently chase the fewest amount of pitches outside of the strike zone and are middle of the pack in categories such as exit velocity, barrel percentage, and launch angle. Additionally, the team whiff percentage is one of the lowest.
There are a few things to take into consideration when saying the Brewers at-bats have not been bad. As indicated, it is true that they do not chase balls outside of the strike zone or swing and miss on a lot of pitches, but they also swing the bat at the third lowest percentage in all of baseball at 43.3%. This doesn’t necessarily mean that batters are passing up on hittable pitches. Currently, the Brewers swing percentage at meatballs is at 78%.
To me this seems as if batters are not capitalizing on mistake pitches despite quality at-bats, decent contact rates, and while swinging at good pitches. Part of this may be bad luck. The Brewers are currently ranked 21st in batting average on balls in play with a .271 average. Another factor to consider is that six of their nine games were outdoors in spring weather. Eventually this should all start to balance out, especially as the weather warms.
It is frustrating to not see results given lineup and coaching staff changes.
A lot of comments were made during the off-season about how poor the Brewers performed against left handed pitching. They also overall lacked in the power department last season. David Stearns addressed this by signing Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Renfroe, and Mike Brosseau, all of whom perform well against southpaws. He also knew a change was needed at hitting coach and elected to bring aboard both Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson.
Without being inside the club house, it is hard to know how either Ozzie or Connor have impacted Brewers players so far. One thing we do know is that the MLB lockout lasted longer than it should have. As a result, both coaches were unable to establish/meet with the players until spring training. With these unique circumstances, both coaches and players will still be getting to know one another as the season progresses.
As for the key additions to the Brewers lineup, very little production has been made so far. Brosseau has the only home run of the three when he took lefty Daniel Norris deep in the Cubs series. McCutchen and Renfroe have both been playing a lot, but are still searching for their first Brewer home runs.
The lineup and batting order against left handed pitching is different than expected.
Lastly, Counsell has received a lot of heat for his line up construction against left handed starters. A lot of this has been directed at Keston Hiura getting starts over Rowdy Tellez at first base. He also took Kolton Wong out of the lead-off spot and dropped him to seventh in the order. It’s fair to say that opposing teams would like to continue to see the Brewers left handed power bats remain on the bench. This may have been a strategy we saw Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol use in Saturdays game when he elected to use lefty Genesis Cabrera over multiple innings, including facing the heart of the Brewers batting order.
As it stands today the Brewers offense is near the bottom of the league in most categories. They are tied for 27th in runs scored and home runs. They rank 23rd in batting average, 24th in OBP, 24th in SLG, and 25th in OPS. It’s early yet, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t be frustrated.
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