We are only 16 days away from Brewers baseball, and although much of Wisconsin is under a couple feet of snow, Milwaukee is preparing for a monumental 2013.
The Brewers finished 2012 with a record of 83-79 and finished third in the NL Central behind the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee had the best record in all of the National League after August 19th, as they finished the season on a 29-13 run. The last two months of the season provided plenty of optimism for the Brewers faithful as the Crew will be returning their entire batting lineup from 2012 and also the young arms that carried them late in the year.
Projected Lineup: 1. Norichika Aoki RF 2. Rickie Weeks 2B 3. Ryan Braun LF 4. Aramis Ramirez 3B 5. Jonathan Lucroy C 6. Carlos Gomez CF 7. Alex Gonzalez 1B* 8. Jean Segura SS (*until Corey Hart returns from injury in May)
Projected Rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Michael Fiers, Chris Narveson
Projected Bullpen: John Axford, Jim Henderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Burke Badenhopp, Mike Gonzalez, Brandon Kintzler, Jesus Sanchez
Bench: Jeff Bianchi, Logan Schafer, Taylor Green, Martin Maldonado
Still fighting for a spot on the 25-team roster: Josh Stinson, Mark Rogers, Tyler Thornburg, Hiram Burgos, Michael Olmstead, Khristopher Davis, Caleb Gindl, Alfredo Figaro, Blake Lalli, Bobby Crosby, Donnie Murphy, Hunter Morris
Why they’ll succeed: Milwaukee had the best offense in the National League in 2012 and they are returning all eight starting position players from the end of last season. The Brewers will rely heavily on their power, Ryan Braun led the National League in home runs a year ago and the Crew has six potential 20+ home run hitters in their lineup. To go along with their offensive power, Milwaukee also led the National League in stolen bases last season, the Brewers starting outfield combined for 97 steals in 2012.
But for the Brewers to be playoff contenders they will need stellar pitching from a young rotation that led the NL in strikeouts last season. Marco Estrada and Michael Fiers put up impressive K/9 innings numbers a season ago and Wily Peralta showed promise of becoming a young superstar. Yovani Gallardo will look to cement himself as a frontline ace in Milwaukee; coming off of a 16-win season in 2012 Gallardo will be penciled in to be the Opening Day starter on April 1st against the Colorado Rockies.
X-Factor: Besides the youth of our pitching staff, the X-factor of 2013 will be Carlos Gomez. Gomez is coming off a career year in 2012 where he set career highs in home runs (19), batting average (.260), stolen bases (37), on-base percentage (.305), and slugging percentage (.463). He signed a 4-year contract extension with the Brewers this offseason and he will be looking to become an all-star caliber center fielder in 2013.
Roll Out the Barrel Author Predictions:
Benny Baseball: 87-75, 2nd in the NL Central
Big Cat: 92-70, 1st in the NL Central