The worst season in Milwaukee Brewers history occurred in 2002 when they finished the year with a franchise record 106 losses. That team started the season 3-9 and never gave fans any hope of being a competitive team. They were a remarkably bad, and yet they currently seem like World Series contenders compared to the 2015 Brewers.
Both teams were plagued by a severe negative run differential to start the season, but the ’15 Brewers are taking it to another level. Their -35 mark through 12 games is 94% worse than the 2002 team’s (-18). The current -35 differential also happens to be the worst in the MLB by 10 runs. (Surprisingly, the defending champion San Francisco Giants are second worst at -25.)
There is also the important matter of watchability. Losing can be tolerated to an extent if the games are entertaining, but the vast majority of Brewers games so far have been the opposite of compelling.
The Brewers’ win expectancy has dipped below 30% – often by a large margin – after the sixth inning in 9 of their 10 losses. These numbers may actually be inaccurately high as the Brewers’ 2.5 runs per game average makes any comeback nearly impossible. Instead of fans experiencing the thrilling tension of late inning baseball, the final frames have been an inevitable march towards defeat for those who stick around to watch.
In contrast, the 2002 team’s first 12 games were at least littered with nuggets of inspired baseball. That team lost four 1-run games and had a 9-run offense explosion during an Opening Day victory in Houston. They even won the home opener at Miller Park, giving fans a glimmer of hope. You know things are going bad when you look back fondly at the 2002 season.
If the ’15 Brewers continue at this pace they’ll finish the season with 27 wins and 405 runs scored, both of which would shatter the all-time marks for futility. While these paces will improve (I think), it’s now a question if they’ll improve enough to make the Brewers worth watching.
The Brewers playing bad baseball is nothing new. Going back to late August of last season, the Brew Crew have lost 31 of their last 42 games. It’s becoming less “possible” and more “likely” that the perceived talent on this team is actually an illusion or that the current combination of players simply does not work. Whatever it is, we’re at the almost to the point where some significant changes need to happen.
Are the Brewers really this bad? It’s hard to answer “yes” because they are still a team constructed of Major League players, and no major, but with each dreadful showing it’s getting hard to argue “no.”