Feeling a bit down about the Brewers latest collapse? Don’t be.
Of all the teams in professional sports, the Milwaukee Brewers are one of the least fulfilling to root for. Since relocating to Milwaukee in 1970, they have made only four playoff appearances and are 358 games under .500. This historic futility causes fans to get excited about modest stretches of success. Unfortunately this excitement is usually doused with a bucket of ice cold reality.
Like other teams before them, the 2017 Brewers are masters at raising expectations and then pulling out the rug. The Brew Crew entered the All-Star break with a 50-41 record and 5.5 game lead in the division. After winning the first two games of the second half the Brewers have dropped 18 of 25 and fallen into third place in the NL Central. This type of swoon is not uncommon in Milwaukee. As frustrating as it is to watch another Brewers team fade into oblivion, you should not be demoralized by the regression of the 2017 Brew Crew.
There are a couple reasons for this:
First, Milwaukee’s team was not expected to contend in 2017. FiveThirtyEight had the Brewers finishing the season 74-88 and the “Best Case” scenario at SBNation.com did not involve the Brewers making the playoffs at all. Though pre-season expectations are not the be-all and end-all, they were correct in their assessment that the Brewers are an incomplete team. The problem with baseball is that you cannot hide your weaknesses for 162 games. You are who you are and eventually that will show up in the standings. In a sense, the Brewers are not so much collapsing as they are coming back to earth.
Second, you should be optimistic (rather than demoralized) that the Brewers were even in a position to surrender a 5.5 game division lead. The Brewers build that lead because they have talent. Any team in the majors would be thrilled to have a core of young players like Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Corey Knebel, Jimmy Nelson, and Orlando Arcia. The problem is the the Brewers don’t have enough talent. They need another reliable starting pitcher (or two), another shutdown reliever to compliment Knebel, and consistent offense from centerfield and second base. In other words: there are a lot of holes in the roster. Despite this, the talent they have is capable of carrying a team for 100 games. They just need to get the depth for those other 62 games. Fortunately this is not an aging roster that’s being held together by duct tape and sawdust, rather it’s a young roster that is building on a strong foundation.
In the words of the late Dennis Green, the Brewers are who we thought they were. If nothing else their young players have been exposed to the pressure of a pennant race. This will only pay dividends in the future. It’s also important to remember that they are still only 3.0 games out of first place with 45 left to play. For all I know they will be great for their last 44 games and we can all have a good laugh at this column while watching them in the playoffs. But if they continue to scuffle, we should still be excited about 2018 and beyond.