2020 Fantasy Baseball: Milwaukee Brewers Team Preview

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Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers played well in 2018 and 2019, earning them two postseason berths. They’ve made the playoffs six times in the team’s 51-year history with one trip to the World Series.

In the offseason, Milwaukee was active in their dart-throwing by signing OF Avisail Garcia, 3B Eric Sogard, 1B Justin Smoak, 3B Ryon Healy, and 2B Jedd Gyorko for their offense. They also acquired C Omar Narvaez in a trade with the Mariners for SP Adam Hill. The Brewers traded for SP Eric Lauer and 2B Luis Urias in a deal with the Padres for OF Trent Grisham and SP Zach Davies. On the pitching side, they added SP Brett Anderson, SP Josh Lindblom, and RP David Phelps.

Milwaukee ranked 17th in runs (769), seventh in home runs (250), and 14th in RBI (744), They finished 16th in ERA (4.40) with 50 saves.

In 2020, the Brewers only have one impact bat (Christian Yelich) while building their core around two developing infielders (Keston Hiura and Luis Urias). They have serviceable power and a veteran presence, but Milwaukee may struggle to rank in the ten in the league runs, home runs, and RBI.

Their starting rotation lacks a true ace with plenty of questions with their depth. The bullpen should be a strength with Josh Hader carrying most of the load in the late innings.

I don’t see a playoff appearance, but the Brewers will play well when their bats are hot, and their starters keep them in games.

Starting Lineup

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1. OF Lorenzo Cain

Cain ended being a bust in 2019 after losing value in runs (60), batting average (.260), and steals (18). His CTBA (.320) had a sharp decline with no pulse in his RBI rate (12) and AVH (1.432) over the past three seasons. He looked on track over the first half of the year (48 run, five HRs, 30 RBI, and ten SBs) in the counting categories, but his batting average (.246) had risk. Cain battled oblique, knee, and ankle injuries over the final two months, leading to shorter stats (.281 with 27 runs, six HRs, 18 RBI, and eight SBs over 221 at-bats) after the All-Star break. 

Both his walk rate (8.0) and strikeout rate (17.0) fell in line with his career path. His hard-hit rate (42.1) finished higher (111th) than expected when considering his low total in home runs (11). Over the last two seasons, his ground ball rate (54.6 in 2018 and 50.2) hindered his power while his HR/FB rate has been in a tight range (9.5, 9.4, 9.7, and 9.9) over the last four seasons. Aging base-stealing option who will hit the ball hard, but rarely high enough to clear the fences. 

With an ADP of 182, I would look for a player moving more in a positive direction. Barely a 15/25 player with a hole in the RBI category if he doesn't add more loft to his swing in 2020. I expect a bounce back to neutral in batting average and runs.  

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2. OF Christian Yelich

For the fantasy owners that believed in the breakthrough season of Yelich in 2018, he rewarded them with the second-best year in SIscore (11.65) for hitters despite missing the final 18 games with a broken right knee cap. His average hit rate (2.037) pushed higher while finally improving his swing path (ground ball rate – 43.2, 51.8 in 2018, and 55.7 in his career). 

Yelich had a significant jump in his fly-ball rate (35.9 – 22.2 in his career), with only a small drop in his HR/FB rate (32.8). He dominated right-handed batters (.358 with 32 HRs and 73 RBI over 317 at-bats) with success against lefties (.277 with 12 HRs and 24 RBI over 173 at-bats). His best month came in April (.353 with 26 runs, 14 HRs, 34 RBI, and six SBs over 102 at-bats) while struggling in batting average (.247 BAA). Yelich hit over .300 in each of the final four months (.343) with his best production coming in June and July (.359 with 15 HRs, 36 RBI, and 13 SBs over 192 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (49.1) ranked 16th with an elite CTBA (.434). Over the past three seasons, he had an 89.5 percent rate (68-for-76) on the base paths. 

His supporting cast can't match the Braves (Ronald Acuna) or the Angels (Mike Trout), but his five-tool skill set belongs at the front of drafts. Next step: a batting title with 110-plus runs, 40-plus home runs, 110-plus RBI, and a run at 40 steals. Yelich may push even higher with an improved approach (strikeout rate – 20.3 and walk rate – 13.8).  

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3. 1B Ryan Braun

Braun hasn’t had an impactful season since 2012 (.319 with 108 runs, 41 HRs, 112 RBI, and 30 SBs over 598 at-bats), but he still has a respectable middle of the order bat when healthy. Last year hs RBI rate (18) played well with a rebound in his CTBA (.370). His regression comes from his sliding approach (strikeout rate – 20.7 and walk rate – 6.7). Braun still hits well vs. left-handed pitching (.287 with ten wins and 25 RBI over 157 at-bats). Despite hitting .196 in April, he delivered plenty of value over the first two months (.271 with 25 runs, nine HRs, and 90 RBI over 177 at-bats). 

Back, knee and calf injuries cost him playing time after over the final three months. His bat picked up the pace over his last 96 at-bats (.313 with 18 runs, six home runs, and 22 RBI. Braun still has a high hard-hit rate (45.0 – 56th)and strength in his HR/FB rate (20.4), but his swing path delivers too many ground balls (50.4 in 2019, 49.4 in 2018, and 46.5 in his career). 

With weakness in his playing time over the previous three years, Braun can only have at targets for 450 at-bats with a chance at close to a neutral skill set across the board. Not a piece to fight for based on ADP (247), but worth a ride for the value shopper if he slides a couple of rounds. 

Fantasy Baseball, Keston Hiura Milwaukee Brewers
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4. 2B Keston Hiura

Last year between AAA and the majors, Hiura hit .313 with 95 runs, 38 home runs, 85 RBI, and 16 stolen bases over 527 at-bats. His CTBA came in high in the minors (.470) and the majors (.459) with a big push his average hit rate (AAA – 2.071 and MLB – 1.884). Even with an excellent season, his strikeout rate (30.8) doesn't support follow-through in batting average (.303). His walk rate (7.2) came in below the league average (8.4). Hiura struggled against left-handed pitching (.240 with one HR and six RBI over 75 at-bats) while strikeout out 27 times. 

Most of his production came in July and August (.313 with 36 runs, 11 HRs, 34 RBI, and eight SBs over 192 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (50.0) was the 11th highest total in the game. He had a balanced swing path in his first experience in the majors with an elite HR/FB rate (24.1 – 36.5 at AAA). Over three seasons in the minors, Hiura hit .317 with 150 runs, 36 home runs, 122 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 865 at-bats, while owning a much more attractive strikeout rate (21.1). His scouting report suggested a high average bat. His power came much quicker and more plentiful than expected. He didn't have strength in his RBI rate (13) out of the gate. 

Hiura won't be cheap in 2020 (ADP – 42). The question here comes between his highlights and small sample size of success or expected regression for outperforming his previous resume in power. Let's set his floor at .280 with 90 runs, 25 home runs, 85 RBI, and 15 steals while hoping for more upside. His one black mark is a balky right elbow that may need TJ surgery down the road.  

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5. OF Avisail Garcia

Garcia worked as a back-end outfielder in 2019, but he did miss time in August and September with an oblique injury and an illness. Over his first 241 at-bats, Garcia hit .299 with 35 runs, 11 home runs, 32 RBI, and six steals. The loss of at-bats led to a weaker opportunity after the All-Star break (.293 with 22 runs, eight HRs, and 29 RBI over 181 at-bats). He hit better against right-handed pitching (.291 with 13 HRs and 53 RBI over 327 at-bats) with viable power against lefties (.265 with seven HRs and 19 RBI over 162 at-bats). 

Garcia had the lowest ground ball rate (46.0 – 51.1 in his career), but he finished with fade as well in his fly-ball rate (31.6). His HR/FB rate (17.2) came in over his career average (16.4) for the season straight year. Garcia had a rebound in his CTBA (.379), but he had a step back in his average hit rate (1.645). 

Trending toward a 25/80 player with a surprise in speed. His only question comes with his ability to stay healthy. Garcia can be had with pick 225 in the early draft season.

To view the full starting lineup, which also includes player analysis for Ryan Healy, Omar Narvaez, Orlando Arcia, Justin Smoak, Luis Urias, Ben Gamel, Manny Pina, Jedd Gyorko and Eric Sogard, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Milwaukee Brewers Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

Fantasy Baseball, Brandon Woodruff Milwaukee Brewers
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SP1 Brandon Woodruff

Woodruff drew some attention in the high-stakes market after showing life in his pitches with the Brewers in 2019. He struggled over his first five games (5.81 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, .283 BAA, and four home runs over 26.1 innings). His arm played at a high level over his next six starts (5-0 with 1.42 ERA, .178 BAA, and 43 Ks over 38 innings). A bad start in June (six runs and 12 baserunners over four innings) led to a poor month (4.78 ERA) despite two electric games (six runs over 13 innings with 22 Ks). Woodruff had two more top starts (1.42 ERA and 13 Ks over 12.2 innings) before going on the injured list for nine weeks with an oblique issue. 

His AFB (96.8) was top shelf while offering three pitches of value (four-seam – .218 BAA, sinker – .224 BAA, and slider – .237 BAA) with weakness in his changeup (.297 BAA). Woodruff needs to improve against lefties (.265 with eight home runs over 211 at-bats). He pitched the best at home (9-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 93 strikeouts over 70.2 innings). Over five seasons in the minors, he had a 3.40 ERA and 420 strikeouts over 463 innings. His walk rate (2.2) came in an elite area with further growth in his strikeout rate (10.6). 

Woodruff will be drafted as the 28th SP in 2020 with an ADP of 84. On the move with a chance at 15 wins with 3.00 ERA and 200-plus Ks with 180 innings pitched.  

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SP2 Eric Lauer

Lauer hasn’t made any progress over his first two seasons in the majors (14-17 with a 4.40 ERA and 238 Ks over 261.2 innings). His walk rate (3.1) improved in 2019 with a bump as well, in his strikeout rate (8.3). He struggled against lefties (.331 with six home runs over 151 at-bats). 

Lauer had an ERA over 4.30 in five of his six months. He allowed three runs or fewer in 21 of his 29 starts with a serviceable run over 19 games (6-4 with 3.84 ERA and 84 Ks over 96 innings). His AFB (92.1) below the league average with only one pitch of value (four-seam – .242 BAA). Over three seasons on the minors, Lauer had a 2.93 ERA and 195 strikeouts over 178 innings with a better command (strikeout rate – 9.9 and walk rate – 2.8). 

Not the best looking arm on the block, but growth should be expected. Lauer has a waiver wire ADP (547).  

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SP3 Freddy Peralta

Over seven seasons in the minors, Peralta went 19-27 with a 3.25 ERA and 540 strikeouts over 440.1 innings. His arm started to take a step forward in 2017 at AA (2.26 ERA over 63.2 innings with 91 Ks). After 13 excellent starts at AAA (6-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 92 Ks over 63 innings), he earned his first chance in the majors in 2018. With Milwaukee, he pitched well except three games (19 runs and 27 baserunners over 13.1 innings). Peralta allowed two runs or less in six of his 14 starts while delivering three electric starts (no runs over 19.2 innings with 30 Ks).

In 2019, his arm regressed with the Brewers (7-3 with a 5.29 ERA and 115 Ks over 85 innings). He set a career-high in his strikeout (12.2) while struggling with home runs (1.6 per nine) and walks (3.9 per nine). Peralta struggled against right-handed batters (.280 with 12 HRs over 211 at-bats). He dominated out the bullpen in September (1.86 ERA and 20 Ks over 9.2 innings). His AFB (94.1) had a jump in velocity (91.4 in 2018), which Peralta threw 78 percent of the time. He continues to feature an edge curveball (.221 BAA) while lacking a reliable third pitch. Peralta remains a fly-ball pitcher (43.7 percent – 47.4 percent in his career). 

Tease arm with the strikeout ability to improve in 2020. He needs to throw more strikes, and add another off-speed pitch to lock down a starting job.  

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CL/RP Josh Hader

Hader has been electric over his two seasons in the majors as a relieving arm (9-6 with a 2.52 ERA, 281 Ks, and 49 saves). Last year he remained hard to hit (.155) with growth in his walk rate (2.4 – 3.3 in 2018). His biggest issue came from his massive HR/9 rate (1.8). After nine great innings (no runs, 15 Ks, and five SVs) to start the year, Hader served up four runs in four of his next five outings (six runs, six baserunners, and four home runs over 5.2 innings with 16 Ks). 

He rebounded over the next two months (0.69 ERA over 26 innings with six hits, 46 Ks, and 13 SVs). His arm fell off the cliff over his next 15 games (6.19 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, and seven home runs over 16 innings). Hader righted the ship over the final five weeks (1.42 ERA, 32 Ks, and 12 SVs over 19 innings). His season ended with a poor showing in the playoffs (two runs and three baserunners over one inning), costing Milwaukee a victory in the wild card game. Ten of his 15 home runs allowed were hit by righties (.158 BAA). His AFB (96.0) was better than in 2018 (95.3). Hader threw his four-seamer (.174 BAA) 84 percent of the time, but batters hit 14 home runs off of this pitch. His slider (.070) is a plus, but he had less trust in the pitch compared to 2018 (293 pitches – 182 in 2019). Hader pitches up in the strike zone (fly-ball rate – 55.1 and 51.6 in his career) with a massive HR/FB rate (21.4). 

Great closing arm, but he needs to expand his secondary pitches while improving the location of the fastball in the strikeout. His ADP (60) places him as the first closer off the board in 2020. I love his edge, which ranked ninth in SIscore (5.93) in 2019 for pitchers. More of the same while expecting fewer poor outings in 2020.

To view the full pitching staff, which also includes player analysis for Josh Lindblom, Brett Anderson, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, Corey Knebel and Devin Williams, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Milwaukee Brewers Team Outlook