May 31, 2021

5 Reasons Why Milwaukee Brewers Can Turn Things Around Offensively

To this point in the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have been pretty average, hovering around the .500 mark. But if you look at their offensive numbers, they are close to the bottom of the National League in most categories, averaging just 3.7 runs per game. In fact, they have the lowest team batting average in the NL, and it’s not even close. However, the Brew Crew has been able to stay relevant in the NL Central thanks to excellent pitching.

But if the Brewers ever get their act together offensively, they could be a serious threat to win the division and make some noise in the postseason.

While things look bleak at the moment, there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic in Milwaukee. In fact, here are five reasons why the Brewers are poised to turn things around offensively and become a contender in the National League.

Christian Yelich is Back

The first two months of 2021 have not gone how Christian Yelich or the Brewers would have wanted, especially after he hit just .205 last year. The former MVP has already had two stints on the IL with back trouble that could remain an issue for the rest of the season, if not longer. He’s also gone two for his first 23 since coming off the IL with both of those hits coming in the same game. In other words, Yelich is far from a guarantee to produce the way Milwaukee knows he’s capable of producing.

But there should be some semblance of optimism with Yelich back in the lineup. His track record is too impressive to think that the 29-year-old won’t get it going offensively at some point.

During the 2018 season, Yelich almost single-handedly carried the Brew Crew to the NLCS. If he can give the Brewers anything close to that kind of effort, it’ll transform the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup.

Plenty of Pleasant Surprises

Despite the team’s offensive struggles for most of the season, it hasn’t been all bad news for the Brewers. Avisail Garcia has turned in a solid season thus far and is on pace for a career-high in home runs. Kolten Wong came over from the rival Cardinals and has made an impact with the bat. Finally, catcher Omar Narvaez has been a revelation. The Brewers were expecting big things from him last year after Narvaez had an impressive 2019 season in Seattle. After hitting just .176 in 2020, he’s hitting over .300 and has arguably been Milwaukee’s most consistent hitter this year.

Even if more established players have underperformed, The Brewers are still getting steady production from Garcia, Wong, and Narvaez. Obviously, it’ll take more than that trio to get the Brewers to the postseason, even with an excellent pitching staff. However, the Milwaukee lineup at least has a solid foundation from Garcia, Wong, and Narvaez on which to build moving forward.

A Fresh Start for Keston Hiura

Keston Hiura might be at the top of the list of Milwaukee’s biggest disappointments this year. He hit .303 with an OPS of .938 after coming up in May 2019. Unfortunately, Hiura couldn’t keep it going in 2020, batting .212 with an OPS of .707. The 24-year-old struggled even more at the start of this season, forcing the Brewers to send him to triple-A in early May.

However, after hitting .328 with three home runs and six doubles in nine games at triple-A, Hiura was recalled and given a fresh start. There are still high hopes that he’ll be able to get on track and recapture the form he had during the second half of the 2019 season.

At his best, Hiura can serve as a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat and a perfect right-handed complement to Yelich. In fact, he may be equally important to Milwaukee’s lineup as Yelich. If either of those players gets going offensively, it’ll change the look of the lineup and put the Brewers on a path to turning things around offensively.

The Addition of Willy Adames

Desperate for offense, the Brewers made a rare May trade, acquiring shortstop Willy Adames from the Rays. The 25-year-old comes with plenty of power, belting 20 home runs in 2019 and eight more during the shortened 2020 season. He also brings postseason experience, playing in over two dozen playoff games, primarily in Tampa’s  World Series run last season. On paper, he’s the type of young player to inject energy into Milwaukee’s lineup.

Of course, Adames was off to a dreadful start this season with the Rays. At the time of the trade, he was batting .197 with an OPS of .625, hitting 12 extra-base hits in 41 games but providing nothing else. However, he has responded positively to the trade thus far, going 7 for 20 in his first six games with the Brew Crew.

The trade appears to have given him new life while also solving Milwaukee’s issues at shortstop with Luis Urias batting just .207 on the season and backup Daniel Robertson being even worse. An offensive upgrade at shortstop figures to be another step forward for the Brewers in fixing their offensive woes.

Underperforming Big Names

Finally, the Brewers must feel like better days are ahead for their offense considering how many veteran players have underperformed to this point.

The signing of Jackie Bradley Jr. has failed to pay off from an offensive perspective. The same can be said of Travis Shaw, who has provided some power but is batting under .200. Lorenzo Cain has also been in a two-month slump to start the season after playing just five games in 2020.

But to take an optimistic viewpoint, what are the chances that all three of those pieces, as well as Yelich and Hiura, will continue to struggle all season? While Cain is past his prime and Bradley is prone to highs and lows offensively, it’s a little unusual to see so many players on one team producing this far below their career numbers. Sooner or later, at least a few of Milwaukee’s underperforming veterans are bound to get it going.

If the Brewers can simply become average offensively and get to the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, they have the pitching in place to become a serious contender in the NL Central.

Photo: Getty Images