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2018 MLB Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

A look at the Milwaukee Brewers with fantasy baseball in mind.

Jul 19, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw (21) singles against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 86-76
Runs: 20th
Home Runs: 7th
Stolen Bases: 2nd
ERA: 9th
Saves: 1st
Strikeouts: 13th

The Brewers just missed out on the playoffs in 2017. They had the best record of any team that did not play in the postseason. They were also 1 of only 2 teams (the Cardinals being the other) with a winning record and no postseason to show for it. As a team the Brewers did great things in 2017. 1st in the NL in steals and 1st in all of baseball in saves. The second feat coming despite starting the season with the up and down closer of Neftali Feliz. Once Corey Knebel took over he never looked back. Knebel finished the #3 closer in fantasy. This team also offers a strong balance with a top 10 finish in both home runs and team ERA.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Travis Shaw

This could be a 3 way tie between Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Ryan Braun. Despite his injury filled season, we all know Braun is capable of a 30 HR 10 SB season, which is exactly what Shaw and Santana had in 2017. My pick for Shaw has a lot to do with how high I was on him going into 2017. I advocated for Shaw after his monster 1st week in 2017 and he continue to climb my weekly top 250 from that point forward. I had him ranked #53 overall in my last top 250 update and I’d imagine that’s right around where he will be to start 2018. Shaw was traded from the Red Sox and landed in a much better situation with Milwaukee. He easily had his best season of his 3 big league years. He also improved his BB rate while lowering his K rate. This bodes well for a repeat performance from Shaw in 2018. He finished last season as the #5 third baseman. 2018 could be even better for him.

The Sleeper: Chase Anderson

The Brewers quietly produced 3 top 50 starting pitchers in 2017. Anderson was the best of the group. This sleeper pick is probably Jimmy Nelson if he hadn’t suffer the shoulder injury that could linger well into the 2018 season. As for Anderson, he posted a 2.74 ERA 1.09 WHIP and a solid 8.5 K/9 over 25 starts. Sure the FIP suggests he should have been a mid 3s ERA guy but this is still a great SP going far to late in drafts. The home ballpark is a slight concern but considering Anderson had a better ERA at Miller Park than on the road gives me more confidence in him. Anderson is currently ranked around 250 overall in most rankings I’ve seen. I have him well inside the top 200.

The Guy to Avoid: Eric Thames

Remember when Thames was the talk of the baseball town? Rightfully so! He was hitting .345 with a 1.276 OPS and 11 HR through April! Well the final 5 months of 2017, Thames hit just .226 with 20 HR and 44 RBI. His K rate also jumped from 27% in April to 36% over the last 5 months. I feel the last 5 months of Thames is a better indicator of what to expect in 2018. Mix that with the crowded offense and I also see a path where Thames loses out on playing time. I’ve avoiding Thames in 2018, especially if he costs me a top 150 pick.

The Prospect To Watch: Lewis Brinson

It’s sometimes hard to get excited about a player who had such a poor debut. Brinson had 21 games of big league action in 2017 where he hit just 2 home runs and finished with a .106/.236/.277 slash line. By comparisons sake, Rhys Hoskins had 11 HR 25 RBI and a 1.161 OPS over his 1st 21 games. The positive was that Brinson hit .331 with 13 HR and 11 SB over 76 games at AAA. Brinson is a monster prospect ranked 12th overall by MLB Pipeline. He has legit 30 HR 30 SB upside! Playing time is the big concern for Brinson at this point but those things seem to work themselves out. Target Brinson in the final few rounds of your 2018 drafts and shoot for the monster upside.