Over the weekend, I had a chance to visit my hometown and see my first Brewers game in quite some time (I witnessed Saturday’s loss in person, my first Brewers game at Miller Park since at least 2010 or 2011). It was great to be home, and to cheer our Milwaukee Nine out of the dugout again. Unfortunately, Fastballer Mike Fiers‘s first couple of innings featured a couple of homers alongside a gang of groundouts to the mound. Carlos Gomez was extremely fun to watch, and I can’t remember a player that has changed my mind so thoroughly as him — indeed, it’s GREAT to be wrong about my earlier opinions about Gomez. Overall, some of the game reminded me of the uneven surges and rough spots that the Brewers would accomplish in games during their rebuilding years. This is disappointing to me, of course, because this year’s roster of players seems better than those of the rebuilding seasons. Whatever the outcome, it was great to be home and be reminded of why I love baseball — getting to see the Brewers in person for the first time in years helps to make this season more personal, for better or worse.
One of the most common themes I have encountered about these 2013 Brewers is, “how does a team with so many .300 hitters score so few runs?” One of the difficult aspects of constructing a batting order is balance. While it seems counterintuitive, depending on how the batting order progresses, having a few average batters scattered throughout the order could conceivably help a team score runs more consistently than a team with a few great producers, and a few terrible producers.
Consider the 2012 Brewers, among the best offenses that General Manager Doug Melvin has built in his tenure in Milwaukee. The club received elite production from Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Braun, strong production from Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart, and average production from Norichika Aoki and Gomez. Even the below average seasons by Rickie Weeks and Jean Segura weren’t terrible, which allowed them to contribute more to the 2012 Brewers than the worst of the 2013 bats.
OPS+ from 2013 Brewers w/ most PA (100+ PA): 163, 154, 152, 151, 117; 80, 70, 54, 18
OPS+ from 2013 Brewers w/ most PA (250+ PA): 158, 136, 132, 120, 109, 101; 93, 93, 63
It might seem strange on the surface, but having several bats that hang around OPS of .728 to .841 throughout your order could help keep the runs coming more than a gang of OPS above .930 that is joined by a gang of bats with OPS below .675.
There was some noise made about the Brewers finally winning their first game while scoring fewer than two runs on Friday. What’s much more concerning than the Brewers’ inability to win while scoring two or fewer runs — hardly any winning teams, let alone GREAT teams, accomplish that –is their inability to score six or more runs frequently, as well as their ability to win when they score six or more runs.
2013 Milwaukee Brewers (through May 27 game, 49 games):
6+ RS: 10-4 (.286 of games)
3-5 RS: 8-10 (3 wins with 3-to-4 runs scored) (.367 of games)
0-2 RS: 1-16 (.347 of games)
.563 winning percentage with 3-5 RS and 6+ RS.
4.00 R/G average
2012 Milwaukee Brewers:
6+ RS: 52-14 (.407 of games)
3-5 RS: 27-31 (18 wins with 3-to-4 runs scored) (.358 of games)
0-2 RS: 4-34 (.235 of games)
.637 winning percentage with 3-5 RS and 6+ RS.
4.79 R/G average
2011 Milwaukee Brewers
49-9 in 6+ runs scored (.358 of games)
40-21 in 3-5 runs scored (27 wins between 3-4 RS) (.377 of games)
7-36 in 0-2 runs scored (.265 of games)
.748 winning percentage with 3-5 RS and 6+ RS.
4.45 RS/G average
Successful baseball teams aren’t just defined by the close games they win; they’re also defined by their ability to simply beat their opposition by scoring so many runs, their opponents cannot come back. Unfortunately, one of the detrimental aspects of the current Brewers clubs is that their pitching staff makes it more difficult to win when the offense scores six or more runs — not to mention close games when the club scores three-to-four runs. Beyond the pitching, though, if a ballclub scores between zero-and-two runs more frequently than they score six runs (and almost as much as they score three-to-five runs, even!), they’re simply going to have a more difficult time winning ballgames. On the other hand, even with their current run distribution, a pitching staff as good as the 2011 Brewers would be winning games at a pace good for approximately 84-to-86 games.
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. 2000-2013.