StaTuesday: Brewers predictions for 2019

Milwaukee Brewers' Lorenzo Cain reacts after making it back to first on a rundown during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

A year after their wild run to a division title and the NLCS, the Milwaukee Brewers are drawing mixed reviews from the experts.

With opening day just around the corner, baseball writers and experts are posting picks, predictions and projections for the coming season.

Over at ESPN, the network’s baseball minds are predicting a wild race in the NL Central.

Of the 31 experts polled, 12 picked the Chicago Cubs to win the division, 10 picked the Brewers and nine picked the St. Louis Cardinals.

More Brewers coverage

Senior writer David Schoenfield:

“With a healthy Kris Bryant and better production from Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs will have an elite offense. A healthy Yu Darvish will help stabilize the rotation, and the bullpen is deeper than everyone gives them credit for.”

Baseball Prospectus‘ standings projections aren’t quite as kind to the Cubs.

The Brewers are projected to win the division at 88-74, while the Cubs are projected to finish in last at 79-83.

CBS Sports’ five-person panel of Matt Snyder, Dayn Perry, Mike Axisa, R.J. Anderson and Katherine Acquavella was split on the Cubs and Cardinals to win the division, but all five picked the Brewers to finish third.

Snyder: “In looking at how things shook out, I’m guessing the most complaints would come from Braves and Brewers fans. I can only speak for myself, but it was more a reflection of tough competition than trying to say the teams are much worse. I like the Brewers for mid-to-high 80s in wins and that’ll only be enough to finish third.”

MLB.com’s Will Leitch has a bold prediction for every team, and is expecting another big season for Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

“Lorenzo Cain will be the better NL MVP Award candidate than Christian Yelich. Before Yelich went nuts the last few months of 2018, Cain was neck-and-neck with him. Cain’s defense was huge last year and could be even more so this year.”

This isn’t especially surprising.

Cain was in the NL MVP conversation for much of 2018, ultimately finishing in seventh, while earning one third-place vote, thanks largely to his stellar play in center field.

Back to Baseball Prospectus: Their Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA, more on that here) tool projects some steps back for Milwaukee.

Newcomer Yasmani Grandal should be a solid addition behind the plate, while Brandon Woodruff is projected to be the Brewers’ most effective starter with a 3.76 ERA and a 9.3 K/9.

BREWERS — HITTERS

PLAYER PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB K AVG OBP SLG
Jesus Aguilar 561 69 26 2 25 81 51 140 .254 .330 .461
Orlando Arcia 435 47 17 2 9 42 30 90 .241 .298 .363
Ryan Braun 466 59 21 2 17 59 40 87 .257 .327 .435
Lorenzo Cain 639 86 29 3 13 60 62 109 .277 .356 .407
Ben Gamel 266 29 12 2 5 26 24 57 .247 .321 .374
Yasmani Grandal 481 57 21 1 20 65 53 121 .235 .323 .429
Mike Moustakas 592 75 31 2 27 89 44 91 .271 .332 .487
Hernan Perez 394 46 18 2 11 45 21 77 .262 .304 .413
Manny Pina 355 38 17 2 8 38 27 72 .255 .322 .396
Travis Shaw 561 71 28 2 24 79 57 119 .257 .338 .463
Eric Thames 230 32 11 1 10 29 24 74 .234 .322 .445
Christian Yelich 662 97 29 4 25 81 67 140 .272 .354 .463

BREWERS — STARTING PITCHERS

PLAYER IP H HR BB/9 K/9 K WHIP ERA
Jhoulys Chacin 171 143 20 3.4 8.4 160 1.21 4.11
Freddy Peralta 79 2/3 59 10 4.3 11.7 103 1.22 3.79
Brandon Woodruff 138 2/3 115 16 3.2 9.3 142 1.19 3.76
Corbin Burnes 77 2/3 63 9 3.9 9.4 81 1.24 3.99
Zach Davies 119 2/3 112 13 2.8 7.8 104 1.24 3.88

BREWERS — RELIEF PITCHERS

PLAYER IP H HR BB/9 K/9 K WHIP ERA
Chase Anderson 142 2/3 123 21 3.0 8.4 133 1.20 4.31
Alex Claudio 50 2/3 46 4 2.7 7.1 40 1.22 3.66
Junior Guerra 77 66 11 3.5 8.8 76 1.24 4.35
Josh Hader 67 2/3 42 10 3.7 14.1 106 1.03 3.21
Jeremy Jeffress 62 49 6 3.6 10.0 69 1.20 3.54
Corey Knebel 62 42 6 3.9 12.9 89 1.11 3.05
Jake Petricka 52 1/3 55 7 4.3 7.8 45 1.53 4.84
Brent Suter 11 1/3 10 2 2.4 8.2 10 1.19 4.08
Alex Wilson 50 2/3 50 6 3.2 6.5 36 1.33 4.64