88 Wins | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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88 Wins

By on February 11, 2014

On Thursday, I noted that the 2012-2013 Brewers have the largest split in winning percentage between their first half and second half performances in the NL Central. Despite two seasons that are best disappointing (2013)-to-moderately successful (2012), the second half Brewers won games at a pace good for 88 wins. Since the Brewers’ ratio of runs scored and runs allowed matched their solid 88-win pace, I was naturally inclined to ask, “What did the Brewers’ 88-win performances look like?”

Second Half G RS / RA Pace Change
2012 77 G 392 RS / 340 RA +44 RS / -16 RA
2013 68 G 271 RS / 253 RA +5 RS / -61 RA

Overall, this second half performance is approximately 80 runs better than the 2014 PECOTA projections for Milwaukee.

On the offensive side of the diamond, the second-half Brewers featured some notable campaigns, including productive months by infamous slow starter Aramis Ramirez. Not only did Ramirez warm up slowly and eventually mash, but the Brewers also received breakout campaigns by Carlos Gomez and Scooter Gennett. Even though Brewers fans generally have an attitude of frustration toward Rickie Weeks, his second half in 2012 was a corrective performance that helped the club win. Judging the base of the 2014 Brewers’ roster, here are some of the most notable second half performances between either 2012 or 2013; it is worth noting that the team improved in 2013 even with poor performances from a couple of players:

Second Half (Year) Basic Production / Playing Time Split AVG / OBP / SLG Career Difference
R. Weeks (2012) 327 PA / 51 R / 34 RBI / 29 XBH .261/.343/.457 .247/.346/.422 104
R. Braun (2012) 324 PA / 52 R / 51 RBI / 40 XBH .333/.392/.591 .312/.374/.564 105
J. Lucroy (2013) 273 PA / 32 R / 30 RBI / 23 XBH .286/.363/.433 .279/.331/.426 105
C. Gomez (2013) 228 PA / 29 R / 28 RBI / 18 XBH .265/.339/.460 .255/.303/.406 112
J. Segura (2013) 226 PA / 20 R / 13 RBI / 12 XBH .241/.268/.315 .287/.326/.403 80
S. Gennett (2013) 185 PA / 25 R / 16 RBI / 16 XBH .351/.381/.509 .324/.356/.479 107
J. Francisco (2013) 157 PA / 13 R / 17 RBI / 15 XBH .190/.268/.394 .243/.300/.432 90
A. Ramirez (2013) 142 PA / 22 R / 23 RBI / 14 XBH .301/.387/.528 .285/.345/.501 108
K. Davis (2013) 134 PA / 25 R / 27 RBI / 19 XBH .294/.366/.639 .279/.353/.596 106

On the other side of the diamond, the Brewers pitchers put together some solid second half efforts, especially in 2013. A rotation-wide set of improvements spanned from top pitcher Kyle Lohse to newcomers Tyler Thornburg and Wily Peralta. Improvements by Lohse and Yovani Gallardo in 2013 were both better than Marco Estrada‘s exceptional second half in 2012. Like the bats above, Mike Fiers‘s second-half performance shows that the 2012 club was able to improve withouit great pitching performances from everyone:

Second Half (Year) Basic Production / Playing Time ERA / FIP Career Difference
M. Estrada (2012) 15 GS / 87.3 IP / 38 R / 88 K / 19 BB / 7 HR 3.40 / -0.32 4.17 / 0.70 123
K. Lohse (2013) 13 GS / 83.3 IP / 29 R / 54 K / 17 BB / 7 HR 2.92 / 0.41 4.35 / 1.14 149
M. Fiers (2012) 15 GS / 81 IP / 44 R / 85 K / 27 BB / 10 HR 4.56 / 0.51 4.20 / 0.60 92
W. Peralta (2013) 12 GS / 70 IP / 36 R / 59 K / 28 BB / 8 HR 3.99 / 1.00 4.11 / 0.92 103
Y. Gallardo (2013) 11 GS / 67 IP / 24 R / 53 K / 23 BB / 6 HR 3.09 / 0.61 3.72 / 0.54 120
T. Thornburg (2013) 14 G / 53.3 IP / 15 R / 39 K / 22 BB / 1 HR 2.19 / 0.02 2.64 / 0.90 121

One of the key questions about these performances is their sustainability. In most cases, these pitching and batting stretches are notably better than each player’s career average. It is worth pointing out that players simply fluctuate in performance over time; one must find these strong second-half performances as one example of potential talent and production ceilings, rather than an indication of a consistent level of production for each player. In fact, across all levels of career performance — above average / average / slightly below average — players frequently have months that are below their career average. Here are three examples from this spectrum, judging months with 50+ PA from 2009-2013:

Player (Career OPS) #Months > Career AVG (’09-’13 50+ PA)
R. Braun (.938) 17 of 26
R. Weeks (.768) 13 of 22
C. Gomez (.709) 10 of 20

Gomez’s improvement becomes evident when 2009-2011 are compared against 2012-2013. Namely, Gomez logged as many fulltime, 50+ PA months in the last two seasons as he did throughout 2009-2011. In the last two years, he has not disappointed during his exposure to full playing time. In fact, he’s pretty much building a new career average:

C. Gomez #Months > Career AVG Career AVG
2009-2011 2 of 10 .648 (’07 to ’11)
2012-2013 8 of 10 .709 (’07 to ’13)

Even an elite player such as Ryan Braun will probably have at least two (or more) months of a season below his career average. This should help Brewers fans temper their expectations for the 2014 club, while also maintaining a level of optimism. On the one hand, the core roster of the 2014 Brewers has shown a solid talent ceiling through their second half performances, and those second halves even have some room for improvement (Jean Segura is a wildcard here). On the other hand, there remains an issue of how the club will perform during the other months of the season. Here one might argue that even if the Brewers players cannot be expected to consistently match their career level of production on a monthly basis, the potential for a successful 2014 season will rest on how far each player falls from their average production. At their worst, will the 2014 Brewers be dreadful (like the first half 2012 and 2013 Brewers?), or closer to average? Will this impact the players’ abilities to produce at least one notably above average half of the season?

RESOURCES:
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2013.

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