Brewers: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Texas Rangers



AL Central: KC, CWS, DET, CLE, MIN

NL Central: STL, PIT, CHC

The Brewers added a couple of infielders and a relief pitcher this offseason. While that won’t win them the division, they can help fantasy owners.

The Milwaukee Brewers have struggled mightily since making it to the NLCS in 2011. They finished either third or fourth in each season and at least 30 games back over the last two. If they want to succeed, and who doesn’t, they needed to make a couple of changes.

The team didn’t lose many players to free agency, but they did trade away an important bullpen piece for a third baseman and some minor league players.

The front office also let a 41-home run hitter go in exchange for a player we haven’t seen in the MLB since 2012.

Even with all of the moves, regardless of how minor the moves seem, are a step in the right direction. There are sleepers that will be drafted late, but there are only a couple of elite talents on the team.

Miller Park was a hitter-friendly park last season. The team had eight batters with at least 11 home runs. It doesn’t help the pitchers much, considering five of the six had an ERA close to or over 4.00.

The Brewers have one outfielder and a shortstop ranked in the top 10 in their respective positions. There are a couple of teams with a shallow talent pool. They have just eight players ranked inside my top 300.

Sep 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Junior Guerra throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t much to like about the Brewers starting rotation. They allow a lot of runs, don’t strike out many batters and have low run support. With this, there is only one starting pitcher I would draft.

The rotation features Junior Guerra, Matt Garza, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Wily Peralta. Jimmy Nelson looks like he will start the season in Triple-A.

Guerra is the pitcher I like the most. He made 20 starts, but his numbers looked good. He had a 2.81 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, and 9-3 record. Guerra struck out 100 batters, 7.4 K/9, and 43 walks, 3.2 BB/9. The only thing that scares me is his FIP, 3.70, which means his defense greatly supported him.

The only thing that scares me is his FIP, 3.70, which means his defense greatly supported him. I like him for a 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 130 strikeouts.

Davies is the next guy on my list. He had the second-best ERA and WHIP on the team after making 28 starts. He had 11 wins and a lower walk rate. Davies is my No. 80 starting pitcher.

Garza, Anderson, and Peralta are decent streaming options. They all had ERAs over 4.00, low strikeout and high walk rates. Nothing good you want on your fantasy team.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates

The Brewers bullpen has undergone a few changes over the last year. The team traded two relief pitchers, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith at the trade deadline. The Brewers then traded incumbent closer Tyler Thornburg in December.

This led, or so I thought, to Corey Knebel being named the closer. He had some good and some bad stats, but I had him as one of my closer sleepers this season.

Then, the Brewers signed free agent reliever Neftali Feliz on Jan. 23. He is now the expected closer. My colleague Brad Kelly wrote about the signing here.

Feliz clearly gets the bump in value because he will be good for at least 50 save opportunities. Jeffress, Thornburg, and company combined for 46 saves. Feliz hasn’t been a full-time closer since 2011 when he posted 32 saves. He had a 3.52 ERA and 1.137 WHIP in 62 games last season. He is my No. 31 relief pitcher.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Texas Rangers

The Brewers traded for catcher Andrew Susac after trading away Jonathan Lucroy. I don’t have him ranked inside my top-25 catchers.

Milwaukee swapped first basemen by letting go of Carter or Eric Thames. Thames spent the last three seasons in Korea, hitting 124 home runs and 379 RBI in that time.

I’m hesitant to see if he can readjust to the MLB-level of play, but he is just 30 years old. I have him as my No. 21 first baseman.

Jonathan Villar spent most of last season at shortstop. He also played 42 games at third base. But, the Brewers will move him over to second base. It will take him 10 games to gain second base eligibility in standard leagues.

Villar was my most valuable fantasy hitter, based on his performance relative to his ADP. He had 19 home runs, 63 RBI, 62 steals (18 caught stealing) and .285. He moves up to my No. 5 shortstop with his five-stat ability.

Orlando Arcia is the starting shortstop. Not sure why the Brewers didn’t go with Villar at short and Scooter Gennett at second, but that’s why the Brewers haven’t won many games.

Travis Shaw was acquired as a part of the Thornburg trade. He had some good power numbers with the Boston Red Sox, but a low batting average. Shaw hit 16 homers, 71 RBI and .242. He’s my No. 30 third baseman.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres

The Brewers outfield is anchored by Ryan Braun but they are still flying under the radar.

Regardless of what you think of him personally, Braun is putting up numbers. He hit .305 with 30 home runs, 91 RBI, and 16 steals. On a team with little offensive stars, he constantly performs. He is my No. 9 outfielder.

The other two outfielders are Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton.

Santana was alright, hitting .256 with 11 homers and 32 RBI. He’s my No. 57 outfielder. There isn’t much to be excited for, but as your tier-six outfielder, you can’t do better.

Broxton is in a similar boat. He hit nine home runs, 19 RBI, and .242. What puts him ahead of Santana is his speed. Broxton stole 23 bases in 244 plate appearances.

Jun 2, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) and center fielder Ramon Flores (18) and shortstop Jonathan Villar (5) and left fielder Ryan Braun (8) celebrate a victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Milwaukee Brewers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Finding talent on the Brewers roster is difficult. They have limited options in the rotation. The bullpen does have two solid options. The offense has a question mark at first base and a top-10 shortstop and outfielder.

Most of their players will be late-round draft picks in deep leagues. Which, in fantasy, could win you a championship.