A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.
Number Seven: Milwaukee Brewers
Finally returning to the National League, we coincidentally stumble upon the second National League team that was eliminated from the playoffs. The Brewers were the inverse of the White Sox in terms of BaseRuns rankings, coming in 13th with runs scored and 8th in runs allowed.
The underrated quality for the Brewers were their defense, with the second best defensive efficiency ratio among National League teams. Paired with a front heavy rotation, the Brewers seemed like they had a good postseason recipe, but alas it was not to be. In the rotation, obviously the big horses of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets were helpful but were almost erased by the horribleness of Jeff Suppan.
As much as the defense and front of the rotation helped was as bad as the bullpen was. Eric Gagne, David Riske and even Derrick Turnbow over his ridiculously small sample were so terrible as to scuttle the entire unit. There were a handful of average performances like Carlos Villaneuva, Brian Shouse and Seth McClung, but average isn’t enough to overcome the 80 innings of complete suck from Gagne and Riske.
On the hitting side, the Brewers find some good news, starting with a recovering sophomore season from Ryan Braun. An underrated move (again, defense) was the Mike Cameron acquisition who combined his superb defense with an offensive game that was finally allowed to shine through after a decade played in tough hitter’s parks.
For the past three years or so, analysts have been pointing out that Milwaukee’s door was opening, and while in 2008 the Brewers finally walked through, has their door slammed shut in a snap? Sabathia and Sheets could be gone leaving the Brewers’ rotation as a giant question mark. Matt LaPorta is gone to Cleveland for Sabathia and if 2009 is shaping up as a re-building year, are we looking at Prince Fielder being dangled on the trading block? We could always use more talent changing teams this news worthy winter.
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