Ah, spring is in the air. Well, at least spring training.
With baseball back -- or at least the preparation for the regular season -- we have seen a few statistical predictions for the 2017 edition of the Milwaukee Brewers.
First, the predicted record.
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Baseball Prospectus' Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm system -- better known as PECOTA (see more on description and how it works here) -- has Milwaukee finishing with 74 wins. Interestingly, BP has the World Series champion Chicago Cubs with just 88 wins, although historically that site is a little conservative in its projections (something to keep in mind below). Other NL Central foe predictions: Pittsburgh 80, St. Louis 75 and Cincinnati 72.
USA Today also put out projected season standings -- no word on how it came up with the numbers -- and has the Brewers with 72 wins. Others in NL Central: Cubs 99, Cards 88, Pirates 81 and Reds 66.
OK, now let's take a look at some of the projections for players. These are from Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs. It should be noted that Fangraphs' "projections are a combination of ZiPS and Steamer projections with playing time allocated by our staff."
(note: slash lines of batting average/on-base percentage and slugging percentage are used; also games played listed just to give a comparison)
BP: 154 games, 248/288/393, 15 HR, 16 SB
Fangraphs: 142 games, 246/292/375, 12 HR, 18 SB
Comment: In 55 games last year as a rookie, Arcia hit 219/273/358 with eight steals, so both sites see improvement.
BP: 75 games, 243/302/415, 8 HR
Fangraphs: 69 games, 237/288/393, 9 HR
Comment: The projections mirror what he did last season with the Angels when his slash line was 238/281/392 and he hit eight home runs.
BP: 145 games, 277/343/488, 27 HR, 17 SB
Fangraphs: 136 games, 280/346/492, 25 HR, 13 SB
Comment: Both sites see Braun maintaining his power, but not quite to the 30 homers he had in 2016.
BA: 48 games, 247/295/438, 6 HR, 4 SB
Fangraphs: 2 games, 2-6
Comment: Will the Brewers' top prospect see the majors this season? Fangraphs has him up for a cup of coffee (just seven plate appearances).
BP: 108 games, 229/318/412, 12 HR, 22 SB
Fangraphs: 125 games, 222/304/378, 15 HR, 29 SB
Comment: Broxton had a hot second half to the season last year (294/399/538) but he's not predicted to keep it up in 2017, albeit he's projected to show off his power and speed.
BP: 147 games, 268/307/412, 8 HR
Fangraphs: 42 games, 265/309/395, 4 HR
Comment: Baseball Prospectus seems to be a little high in the games projection, as right now Gennett is without a starting position. Nevertheless, the slash lines give an indication of his expected production.
BP: 147 games, 254/279/377, 7 HR, 16 SB
Fangraphs: 106 games, 261/294/385, 9 HR, 20 SB
Comment: Perez was a super-utility player last year and that figures to be the case again in 2017. Baseball Prospectus might be a bit high in his games played, though. Either way, both sites see a drop in power and speed (13 HR, .428 slugging, 34 steals in 2016).
BP: 142 games, 246/337/432, 19 HR, 4 SB
Fangraphs: 120 games, 252/342/445, 20 HR, 6 SB
Comment: The power is in line with what he did in 2016 (.447 slugging) in 77 games.
BP: 153 games, 244/309/426, 21 HR
Fangraphs: 120 games, 245/314/431, 20 HR
Comment: Shaw hit 16 homers in 145 games with Boston in left-handed hitter friendly Fenway Park last season but both sites see him setting a career high in 2017 in his new surroundings.
BP: 94 games, 233/314/407, 11 HR
Fangraphs: 69 games, 235/309/397, 9 HR
Comment: With only 96 major-league games under his belt, Susac is hard to project, but both sites see him eclipsing his seven career homers.
BP: 154 games, 238/298/396, 17 HR, 7 SB
Fangraphs: 137 games, 272/350/515, 31 HR, 13 SB
Comment: Easily the biggest question mark on the Brewers in terms of what to expect is Thames, who hasn't played in the majors since 2012 and got himself back to the bigs after strong years over in Korea. Fangraphs, obviously, is a little more bullish.
BP: 154 games, 249/318/394, 15 HR, 48 SB
Fangraphs: 133 games ,255/333/397, 13 HR, 42 SB
Comment: Both sites see Villar, who hit 285/369/457 with 19 HR and 62 SB in 2016, trending backward.
And now for the pitchers. Statistics included below are, in order: ERA, WHIP, walks per nine innings and strikeouts per nine innings.
BP: 4.45, 1.34, 3.3, 7.3
Fangraphs: 4.86, 1.37, 3.0, 7.3
Comment: Anderson's 4.39 ERA in 2016 was the worst of his three-year major-league career.
BP: 3.93, 1.29, 2.7, 7.7
Fangraphs: 4.25, 1.32, 2.8, 7.6
Comment: Last season, Davies had a 1.25 WHIP, so both sites see a step back there, although Baseball Prospectus sees a slight improvement in ERA (3.97 in 2016).
BP: 4.18, 1.27, 3.4, 9.0
Fangraphs: 3.76, 1.24, 3.6, 10.1
Comment: Both sites see Feliz as Milwaukee's closer. Baseball Prospectus projects him with 36 saves while Fangraphs has him at 27 saves. By the way, Feliz has struck out 10+ batters per nine innings just twice in his career: as a rookie in 2009 (11.3) and last year (10.2) with Pittsburgh. From 2011-15, he was in the 6.0-7.8 range.
BP: 4.74, 1.39, 3.4, 7.2
Fangraphs: 4.78, 1.41, 3.0, 6.5
Comment: Garza has had over a 1.50 WHIP in each of the last two seasons with Milwaukee, but was between 1.18 and 1.31 every year from 2008-14. Garza has only exceeded the projected ERA given to him twice: as a rookie in 2006 (5.76 in 10 games) and in 2015 with the Brewers (5.63).
BP: 4.17, 1.28, 3.4, 8.5
Fangraphs: 4.32, 1.35, 3.5, 8.2
Comment: A one-year wonder? Both sites think so, as they project worse numbers in every category compared to last year other than strikeouts per 9 (and BP projects over one more K per nine innings).
BP: 4.38, 1.37, 3.7, 7.9
Fangraphs: 4.70, 1.42, 3.6, 7.4
Comment: Nelson took a step backward in 2016. Baseball Prospectus winds up with a middle ground between his last two seasons statistically, while Fangraphs sees little change ahead.
BP: 4.44, 1.43, 3.3, 7.3
Fangraphs: 4.54, 1.40, 3.1, 6.9
Comment: While neither site sees a return of the 2014 Peralta (3.53 ERA, 1.304 WHIP), there's at least the indication they expect a little closer to the Peralta we saw in the second half last season (2.92 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) than the one who reared its ugly head in the first half (6.68 ERA, 1.88 WHIP).
Dave Heller is the author of the new book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns