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November 21, 2017

So close. So agonizingly close. The Brewers missed the playoffs by just a single game in 2017, which would have given them just their third postseason berth in 35 years. Still, this was a pretty great outcome for a team that had lost 94 and 89 games in the previous two seasons, and looked years away from contending, with a major rebuild in full swing.

That surprise result came largely thanks to in-house improvement, and some shrewd shopping. Rotation holdovers Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, and Chase Anderson made major improvements and Corey Knebel blossomed into an elite closer in a juiced-ball season that turned other young hurlers into dust. Eric Thames became a colossal bargain (and feared middle-of-the-order masher) after coming over from Korea on a dirt-cheap three-year, $16 million deal. The Crew also heisted Travis Shaw from the Red Sox last winter, landing another big bat to complement Thames and 2015 import Domingo Santana.

There’s more upside here too, with homegrown talents Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton showing promise before fading late in the season, top prospect Lewis Brinson likely ready to make a permanent jump to the Show next spring, and the lowest payroll in baseball last season leaving plenty of room to spend some bucks for upgrades.

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