The hottest team in baseball to start the 2014 season might have been in your top five before the year began if you lived in Upside Down Land. (In the sports world that is an actual place). The Milwaukee Brewers lost 88 games last season and finish 14 games below .500. To say their league leading 15-5 record is unexpected would be like saying the Star Wars movies have a few fans. So what is causing this performance and can it be sustained?
Their offense is not doing much more than last season. Their team batting average and on base percentages are both only 7 points higher than last season. They have a better slugging percentage, .430, compared to last season, .398. Seven of their players are hitting over .300 and they are scoring 4.25 runs per game right now. None of this is out of the ordinary for a team that has Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez. This is easily maintainable throughout the season, possibly with room for improvement.
They key to the early season success so far has been the pitching. My personal favorite pitching statistic, and the most telling of a staff, is WHIP – Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched. It basically tells you how many base runners get on due to the pitcher. Milwaukee is leading the majors with a 1.11 WHIP, which means they get about 10 base runners per game. A good WHIP is 1.30. Once you have a good WHIP, everything else falls into place and so it has for the Brewers hurlers who sport a third best 2.66 ERA, the second most quality starts with 15 and a fourth ranked .226 batting average against. Some underlying statistics that support the early success are their 3.27 K/BB ratio as a staff, 3:1 is considered very good, and 8.08 K/9 innings, most staffs will be around 6.5 K/9. All of these numbers are significant improvements over last season’s staff, but that is largely due to their ace Yovani Gallardo returning to form in the early part of 2014.
The Brewers are playing better on the road than at home right now. When both of those even out, the overall end result will still be the same and he Brewers will be playing well all season. They are only 3 years removed from a 96 win season back in 2011. The Brewers will not maintain a .750 winning percentage and are not likely to threaten the Cardinals for the division title. What you can expect is a run at a wild card spot and some exciting baseball along the way.
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