2012 MLB Handicapping: Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers were in the headlines quite a bit this offseason, but for all the wrong reasons. First, their MVP left fielder Ryan Braun was hit with a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test and their All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder moved onto greener pastures in Detroit as a free agent.
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MLB Team Betting Previews- Milwaukee Brewers
Odds to Win the NL Central: +200
Odds to Win the National League Pennant: +1400
Odds to Win the World Series: +2200
2012 Projected Win Total: 88
Braun caught a major break when his suspension was overturned on a technicality, but Fielder is still gone so there still be some impact on a lineup that hit .262 last season and was ranked second in the NL in home runs with 182 and fourth in runs-scored with 750.
There is still plenty of firepower in the batting order in addition to Braun with players such as Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, and Nyjer Morgan. The wildcard in it all could be Aramis Ramirez, who was brought in to help fill the huge void created by Fielder’s departure. He was a stud at times for the Chicago Cubs and has a lifetime .270 batting average at Miller Field, but his better days could be behind him.
Even with all this talent combined, the Brewers will still be hard-pressed to make the Milwaukee faithful forget about Fielder anytime in the near future.
The starting rotation will feature the likes of Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum. Greinke went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA, but his 2011 season will be remembered more for coming unglued in the postseason. Gallardo figures to be the ace of the staff after last season’s 17-10 record and impressive 3.52 ERA.
After that, things hinge Wolf and Marcum’s ability to carry last year’s success into 2012 as the two combined for 26 wins and each had an ERA lower than 3.70.
On paper, this rotation appears to be one of the top four or five in the NL, but any significant drop-off in offensive production could cause the pressure to really mount on its ability to keep Milwaukee in the NL Central race.
The Brewers have finished no worse than third in the division for the last five seasons and went to the playoffs in 2008 as a wildcard in last season as NL Central champs. The loss of Fielder is huge, but with Braun reinstated for the first 50 games, it should help avoid a slow start.
Pitching still remains a concern as just about everything that could go right did for this staff in 2011 and the odds of that happening again are probably not that good.
Milwaukee stays in the NL Central race for the better part of the season, but go with the ‘under’ on the projected 88-game win total as it comes ups a few games short in the end.
Prediction: 84-78 and third in the NL Central