The 2013 Brewers: Frankenstein or Goldilocks? | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

While watching the Brewers this week, I began to think that they were having a “Franken-season”. The Brewers aim was to put a high performance and fun to watch team on the field but ended up with a team that was only adequate and slightly grotesque to watch. All the pieces were there. Some ended up being battered, bruised, or just not up to snuff but, as a whole, they got the job done.

As I thought about it more, I realized that wasn’t quite right. Though some may disagree with me, this isn’t a team made of decaying parts that deserves to be destroyed. The team has a strong backbone and has flexed their muscle at various points this season. For example, the Brewers’ nine game winning streak is tied with the Pirates for the second longest in the NL. Only the Braves’ 14 game winning streak is longer.

To me, the 2013 Brewers seem more like a team in search of their “Goldilocks planet” – a term scientists came up with to help illustrate the “star’s habitable zone”. Simply, when looking for other planets that might contain life, as humans know it, scientists search for a Goldilocks planet. The planets located in areas that are too hot or too cold are excluded. The planets between these two extremes, the area that’s “just right”, are considered Goldilocks planets and contain the balanced conditions needed to support life. For me, that’s it. The Brewers 2013 season, more than anything else, has been a consistent search for balance.

A sterling example of this imbalance is the Brewers starting rotation. Below are the splits for the starting rotations in the first and second half of the season, as compared to the rest of the NL –

ERA NL Rank FIP NL Rank xFIP NL Rank fWAR
1st Half 4.86 15th 4.58 15th 4.11 14th 1.4
2nd Half 2.93 3rd 3.97 11th 4.07 10th 1.8

In the NL, only the Dodgers (2.58 ERA) and Reds (2.89 ERA) starters have a better ERA in the second half. The Marlins’ starters are tied with the Brewers with a second half ERA of 2.93. The Braves are the next closest team and their starters are over half a run worse with a 3.51 ERA.

Now, while the ERA for the Brewers’ starters has dropped drastically, the peripherals (FIP and xFIP) indicate that the rotation has not improved to the degree that their ERA suggests.  Maybe the starting pitchers are making up for their horrid start to the season. Maybe they’re getting lucky. Whatever it is, there’s no denying just how good Brewers’ starting pitchers have been since the All Star break. Here’s another example. Brewers’ starting pitchers compiled a 1.4 fWAR over the first 94 games of the season. In 27 games in the second half, they have already bested that number by posting a 1.8 fWAR.

In August, the starting pitcher’s numbers have been especially remarkable. The Brewers may only be 6-7 so far this month but don’t blame that record on the rotation. They have provided 9 quality starts in those 13 games, including their 6th straight QS following Kyle Lohse’s performance on Thursday. They are also stranding a stellar 82% of base-runners and allowing a paltry .241 BABIP. Both are best in the NL. Here are some more of the Brewers’ SP numbers from August –

ERA NL Rank FIP NL Rank xFIP NL Rank fWAR
August 2.12 1st 3.72 10th 4.16 11th 1.1

We’re only halfway through August so a lot will still change. But, for reference, here are the NL’s best monthly ERA for team starting pitchers so far this season –

Month Team ERA
March/April Cardinals .215
May Pirates .244
June Braves .285
July Dodgers .280

Again, the Brewers’ August FIP and xFIP suggest that the starting pitcher’s ERA is due for a correction. The high number of stranded base-runners (82% LOB) and low .241 BABIP are also unsustainable. The NL average is 72.2% LOB and .291 BABIP.

Going back to Goldilocks, the Brewers’ starting pitchers are too hot for their own good right now. They’re packing too much statistical goodness into too short of a time period. Though impressive and exciting, this hot streak will taste good going down but, once done, leave us all feeling a little burned.

For my tastes, I’d prefer a starting rotation that doesn’t start off so cold only to get so hot. That said, it’s hard not to enjoy a streak like this. While it’s already too late for this year, the second half has shown that the Brewers rotation might have the potential to get it “just right” next year.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Matt T says: August 16, 2013

    Speaking of Loshe, I’d like to see a comparison of him to the field of elite pitchers. I feel like he’s having the best season no one is talking about, comparatively.

  2. Bryan says: August 16, 2013

    “While it’s already too late for this year, the second half has shown that the Brewers rotation might have the potential to get it “just right” next year.” That sentiment seems eerily familiar to what we were all saying a year ago after a hot second half for the Brewers. It was the reason why the brain-trust made few substantial changes other then the 11th hour addition of Loshe. We once again held out collective breath as Brewers fans and prayed that the starting pitching would be just good enough to keep them in it. All the while the offense, led by Braun, Gomez, et al would dominate the stat sheets. I don’t think I need to mention the definition of insanity.

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