It is hard to draw any conclusions 15 games into a season, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying to make something of what has already happened. A closer look at a few numbers posted by individual Brewers and the team as a whole will give fans and analysts a glimpse of how the season has played out thus far, and possibly how the final 147 games will go.
Holy Eric Thames. The ex-KBO slugger has not lost a single step in his transition back to the big leagues. The number above is his OPS through 53 plate appearances. He leads the league in WARP and fWAR for position players. He leads the league in home runs. He has been everything the Brewers have hoped him to be and more. Oh, and he’s only making four million dollars this year.
Now, there is no way Thames will keep up this pace. It is likely more realistic to expect him to halve his OPS than keep it over 1.000. But it’s encouraging nonetheless. If he were to suffer a season ending injury tomorrow he would have already deemed his four million dollar contract a bargain due to his 1.4 WARP. The Brewers will gladly take that.
The Brewers struck out more than any team in baseball history in 2016. Their 26.9 percent strikeout rate through 15 games would shatter the previous record of 25.5 percent, which was a tie between the 2013 Astros and last season’s Brewers. Yet, the Brewers are not even the league leader. That dubious title would go to the Tampa Bay Rays, who are sporting a 28.6 percent strikeout rate. The game is changing and strikeouts are becoming more accepted in exchange for more power, but it has to be a cause for some concern that the team is striking out so much. If and when the Brewers go through a dry spell in terms of scoring runs, look for the high strikeout rate to be the main culprit.
The number above was the combined ERA between Neftali Feliz, Jacob Barnes, Corey Knebel, Carlos Torres, Jared Hughes, and Jhan Marinez in 43 2/3 innings from the group (entering play Wednesday). This is an incredibly encouraging sign for a bullpen that was expected to be a weakness for the team according to PECOTA and many experts. If this group can keep up a similar pace, these relief arms make for easy trade deadline chips. Then again, if they continue as one of the most success full bullpens in baseball, it hard to believe the Brewers will be too far away from competing for a wild card spot.
Zach Davies’s DRA through three starts is 9.74. Once again, only three starts, but it isn’t what anyone would want from Davies, who was heralded as the next Kyle Hendricks all off-season. His FIP is 4.84, which is less than a run worse than his career average. One could jump to the conclusion that this bad stretch is entirely BABIP and strength of competition driven (Rockies and Cubs at home, and the up-start Reds on the road), but there are a few troubling trends in Davies’ line. First, he has walked five batters per nine innings. Davies’s groundball rate has fallen to 42 percent, continuing a career long trend of a transformation into a fly-ball pitcher, and his strikeout rate fallen back under 7 percent as it was in 2015. These three starts against stiff competition aren’t any reason to lose faith in Davies, fantasy players might look to buy stock in him at his low point. He is someone to keep an eye on in the Brewers rotation.
The Brewers hit 25 home runs as a team through their first 15 games, and they added two more on Wednesday thanks to Jett Bandy and Travis Shaw. Most of the thanks goes to Eric Thames and Ryan Braun, who have combined for 12 home runs, but ten different Brewers have already homered just 15 games into the season. Only seven teams have hit more than 40 home runs in the month of April, all of them coming since 2002. The Brewers are well on their way to approaching that 40 home run mark for the month. It’s pretty amazing the power this team is flashing even after trading Khris Davis and then getting rid of Chris Carter last offseason. It makes you wonder what kind of damage the Brewers could do with a DH spot.