Why You Should Still Believe in the Brewers’ Offense

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Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers swings at a pitch during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on August 27, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers swings at a pitch during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on August 27, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

May has been ugly. This Brewer offense has been ugly. Historically ugly. Before the season I predicted the Brewers would win over 90 games, and honestly, I feel great about that prediction. I spent yet another entire day on Baseball Reference and Stathead collecting a bunch of numbers that while at first look horrible, are actually a reason to believe in these Brewers.

How bad have they been?

Nearly everything about this offense is bad. With runners in scoring position, they are last in the National League in batting average and slugging percentage. So not only are they not hitting the ball with men on, but when they do get a hit it’s rarely an extra base hit. 

Not only have they been bad, they’ve been historically bad. Their .192 batting average with runners in scoring position is the worst by a team since 1901. If they don’t improve, they’ll be the first team ever to finish below the Mendoza Line with RISP. That itself means they’re due to improve. The record for lowest team batting average with RISP is .201 by the 1942 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1969 San Diego Padres. 

That means unless they break a record set before the Milwaukee Brewers even existed, they’re due to improve. 

Are they bad or unlucky?

They have been incredibly unlucky. They’re also last in the National League with .267 BAbip. That’s 23 points below the league average. So they actually are hitting into some bad luck.

While there is no guarantee their luck will change, it’s important to keep in mind how many key hitters were not in the lineup during this ugly stretch. The combination of playing with backup players who also happened to hit into bad luck is a strong sign that these bad numbers won’t hold up. 

Are they doing anything well?

Another reason for hope is what they do without the bat. With runners on base, the Brewers are second in the National League in both drawing walks and being hit by pitches, behind the Dodgers in both categories. That means they’re still seeing the ball well in these situations, they just aren’t getting hits. 

One more indicator that bad luck is playing a part in their offensive struggles is their on-base percentage to left-on-base ratio. The Dodgers lead the National League in on-base percentage and men left on base, which makes sense since they put the most men on base. The Marlins have the worst on-base percentage and are last in the league in men left on base. That also makes sense. 

The Brewers, however, are second to last in the NL in on-base percentage but have managed to leave the fifth most men on base. So not only are they not getting on base, but when they do get on they’re getting stranded at an unusually high clip. Unusual stats like that rarely last the entire season.

Between their bad luck with injuries and bad luck with balls hit, mixed with the fact that they’re getting healthy and they’ve shown the ability to see the strike zone, their luck is bound to change sooner than later. Have faith. 

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