As we wrap up our MLB team previews, it's time to preview one of the young, upcoming teams in the National League with the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers Team Outlook.
The Brewers finished last season 73-89, but are a team that should be on the rise despite a relatively quiet offseason.
We'll take a look at the team's notable additions, losses, offense, pitching and prospects. Remember, nobody gets you prepared for the upcoming season like RotoBaller!Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
The Brewers are still in rebuild mode, even though they aren't the youngest team around, so there wasn't much money flying off the table at free agents this offseason. Their most notable addition came from the Korean League in the form of ex-MLB player Eric Thames. They hope he will fill the power void at first left by NL HR champ Chris Carter, who found few suitors on the free agent market before settling on a one-year deal with the Yankees. They also flipped catchers, opting for Jett Bandy instead of Martin Maldonado in order to get younger at the position. Bandy has very modest offensive upside, but Maldonado had already proven he wasn't going to do much with Major League pitching with a .217/.299/.342 career slash. The biggest move the Brew Crew made was sending reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston in exchange for three players. Travis Shaw should become the regular third baseman. With Thornburg dealt, just like Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith last season, Feliz may start the year as the closer.
Ryan Braun is still the star here and he has remained consistent over the past couple of seasons. In fact, his homer total (30) surged to its highest point since 2012, just before his PED scandal broke. It's encouraging to see that he can still produce near-elite power totals along with a .305/.365/.538 line, although some caution should be taken here as his FB% is actually declining. Nevertheless, he is still worthy of being a #1 outfielder on any fantasy team. The rest of the Milwaukee outfield is rife with untapped potential. Keon Broxton is a popular breakout candidate this year after finishing his rookie year with nine homers and 23 steals in just 207 at-bats. Domingo Santana projects as more of a power prospect, but has only hit .239 with 19 HR and 58 RBI in less than a season's worth of plate appearances. Both Broxton and Santana are worth late-round picks.
The infield is less appealing, with the Brewers relying on new additions Travis Shaw and Eric Thames to man the corner spots. Thames is a popular sleeper this season, but will have to prove he can readjust to Major League hitting after four years overseas. Orlando Arcia is a defensive-minded shortstop who doesn't necessarily warrant rostering in most leagues. Hernan Perez was a sneaky source of steals off the waiver wire last season, but will remain in a utility role, limiting his value. The lone bright spot is last year's super-value player, Jonathan Villar, who will shift to second base. He is being drafted in the second round on average and will need to keep his stolen base total above 50, along with 15-20 homers once again in order to provide adequate return.
On paper, Milwaukee's rotation looks better than it really is. The "ace" of this staff is Matt Garza, who posted solid ratios in his 20s, but has put up ERAs of 5.63 and 4.51 the last two injury-riddled seasons., making him mainly an NL-only option. Junior Guerra and Zach Davies were valuable free agent pickups in 2016, with Guerra finishing a surprisingly effective rookie campaign at the age of 31. Neither proved to be a good source of strikeouts, however, leaving them as deep-league options. Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson have yet to live up to their potential and are not fantasy-relevant in any way.
After trading away most of their bullpen, the Brewers will look to Neftali Feliz to close games initially. He was effective as a setup man in Pittsburgh last season, striking out 10.2 per nine innings. He doesn't possess ideal control for a closer, however, and was susceptible to the long ball last year (1.7 HR/9). Corey Knebel or Michael Blazek are likely to be the next in line for saves.
The most notable members of the Milwaukee farm system are a pair of outfielders and starting pitchers. Lewis Brinson came over from Texas in exchange for Jonathan Lucroy last season and projects to be a star in the making. He had a slow start in Double-A last season, but mashed to the tune of .382 with four homers and 20 RBI in 89 at-bats in Colorado Springs upon being moved. Corey Ray was the fifth overall pick in last year's draft, but with just a year of A-ball under his belt, he is a ways off from joining the 40-man roster.
The staff may get a boost this season if Josh Hader can live up to his potential. A hard-throwing lefty who racks up huge strikeout numbers, Hader is worth consideration in dynasty leagues. Jorge Lopez was hit hard in his first two Major League appearances last season, as he was in Triple-A, but still has the talent to stay on fantasy radars as a long-term prospect.
Milwaukee isn't thought of as a team rife with fantasy talent, but that is slowly changing. The Brewers' starting rotation should be mostly ignored, but they could have one of the most talented outfields in the majors if things fall right. Braun and Villar are still the stars here, but both are candidates for regression and should be approached with a slight bit of caution in drafts.