Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Milwaukee Brewers
Projected Starting Lineup
C Jett Bandy—Bandy flashed with the Angels last season which resulted in the Brewers making a trade for him this past off-season. He is not nearly as good as his last year's stats would indicate. Bandy is a second catcher in two-catcher leagues at best.
1B Eric Thames—Thames used to play in MLB, but when he got cut a few years ago, he went to Korea to work on his game. In Korea, Thames hit 124 HRs in three years which enticed the Brewers to offer him a chance to be their new 1B in 2017. Thames is an interesting choice for Fantasy owners this season. If he can bring his new found confidence back with him from overseas, he could be the power threat that the Brewers are hoping to replace Cris Carter.
2B Jonathan Villar—Was there a bigger Fantasy surprise in 2016 than Jonathan Villar? He was outstanding last season, hitting 19 HR and stealing 62 bases. Can he do it again in 2017? I feel confident that there will be some regression this season, but even if he regresses 20%, he will still be one of the top players in Fantasy Baseball. I am thinking 12-16 HR and 40-45 SB.
SS Orlando Arcia—Arcia is Milwaukee’s top prospect, and he is slowly showing why they are so high on him. Arcia is a talented defender who provides excellent speed too. My biggest question with him is where he will hit in the lineup. If he hits second, then he might be a Fantasy sleeper in 2017; if he hits 8th, I like him more for dynasty purposes than in redraft formats.
3B Travis Shaw—Shaw was arguably the hottest hitter in baseball last season from spring training through about the end of May. After the All-Star Break, he hit .194 and proceeded to lose not only his starting job but the confidence of the Red Sox coaching staff. The Brewers decided to move Tyler Thornburg for Shaw because they (Brewers) were lacking a 3B. I expect a rebound for Shaw, but I am not counting on him for more than .270 and 20 HR.
OF Ryan Braun—Braun is supposed to be slowing down, but yet he keeps on producing. 30/30 seasons are a thing of the past for Braun these days, but he can still hit .300 and go about 20/15. He is rock solid as a third round selection in any draft format.
OF Domingo Santana—Santana is only 24 years old, and the Brewers are still waiting to see how he will perform over the course of a whole season. Santana has never had more than 250 at bats in the majors, but he is a huge power threat when he makes contact. If Santana tries too hard to hit home runs, he might end up batting .220 which will be disastrous for Fantasy owners. If he hits .250, he might be able to hit 30 HR if he gets 500 AB.
OF Keon Broxton—Looking for a guy who can be a 30/30 player which the rest of your league hasn’t heard of yet? Look no further than Broxton. Manager Craig Counsell is dying to bat him in the top of the lineup if he can show that he can get on base consistently. If he can get on first base, he has the speed to be an impact player for the Brewers.
Util Hernan Perez—Perez is not going to steal 34 bases this year, but he is a pretty good utility player (qualifies at 3B, OF) who could be useful to stash on your bench in deeper leagues.
SP Jimmy Nelson—Nelson was on everyone’s sleeper list last year but disappointed his Fantasy owners to the tune of a 4.62 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. He let up 25 HR in 179 IP and was an unmitigated disaster in the second half of the year as he got tired. I can see the argument that Nelson is a post-hype sleeper, but he plays in a bandbox ballpark with a crappy bullpen behind him. I will pass on him and feel pretty good about that decision.
SP Junior Guerra—Guerra is the poster child for the slogan “Don’t look at last year’s stats while drafting.” When a player has a great rookie year at 31 years old, it makes me incredibly nervous as to why it took him so long to figure it out. I guess I would take a shot on him in NL-only leagues, but I doubt I would roster him in a mixed league draft.
SP Zach Davies—If you are looking for a possible breakout pitcher on the Brewers this season, Davies might just be your guy. His K/BB ratio last year was outstanding (13538) and he changes speeds well, which keeps hitters off balance. Think of him as Kyle Hendricks-light.
SP Wily Peralta—Instead of progressing as top young NL starter, it seems as if Peralta is regressing. He let up 19 HR in 127 innings and also allowed too many runners on base. He is nothing more than the occasional stream off the waiver wire.
SP Matt Garza—Please don’t draft Garza; he is way past his prime.
RP Corey Knebel—Knebel is 24 and is a possible closer of the future for the Brewers. He is expected to set up Feliz to start the season, but he still should be a good source of holds and Ks.
Closer Neftali Feliz—The Brewers brought in Feliz to be their closer, but I am not completely sold on him. I think he will have a pretty long leash, but I recommend looking elsewhere for saves.