October 20, 2018. The Milwaukee Brewers find themselves just one win away from the Fall Classic. They get to play in front of their home crowd that has experienced one of the greatest second half surges, the game has ever seen. Standing in their way of immortality? The Los Angeles Dodgers who were also, just one win away from their second straight NL pennant. Thanks to a gem from rookie Walker Buehler and a home run from Cody Bellinger in the first, the Dodgers sent the Brewers home packing and were headed back to the World Series. The season was not all a disappointment for the Brewers however. They won the division thanks to a deciding “Game 163 ” at Wrigley Field and were home to the NL MVP in Christian Yelich. They also had one of the scariest bullpen’s in the majors and thanks to a guy named Josh Hader, they were almost unhittable after 7. The Brewers have much to look forward to in 2019 and are one of the more intriguing teams in all of baseball.
A question that now looms throughout the major league media spectrum, is what do the Brewers have to do to repeat as division champions in 2019? Well for starters, they are going to need to get great production from their top 3 outfield in baseball. Made up of Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun, the Brewers outfield is as dangerous as they come. In 2018, the 3 headed monster that roamed in the outfield in Milwaukee, hit for an average of .296, had an average OBP of .370 and hit for a total of 66 home runs. Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich were also selected to the all-star game in July and Yelich took home the honor of league MVP come season’s end. These accomplishments were no fluke, as all three of these players have had great careers with other teams. The fact that they are now together to make one unit, is flat-out scary. In 2019 you can expect Cain and Yelich to both have MVP caliber seasons with Braun being not too far behind. I also feel that if Yelich can carry the momentum that he held at the end of last season, he will win his second straight MVP award and it won’t even be a race.
Although the Brewers have one of the best outfields in baseball, it is not going be enough to win an absolute stacked NL Central in 2019. They are going to need more production. One of these players who will need to provide that production, is Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar, a 28-year-old from Venezuela, is coming off a career best year in which hit for a .274 BA, an .890 OPS, slugged 35 homers and drove in 108 runs. Aguilar was also selected to his first all-star game in July and finished in the top 20 of MVP voting. 2018 came as an absolute shock to the baseball world, as Aguilar had shown nothing close to this range of power thus far in his career. In his first 3 years as a major leaguer, Aguilar failed to hit a ball over the fence and was jumping up and down from the minors as well as dealing with an assortment of injuries which kept him sidelined for quite some time. In 2017, when Aguilar was fully healthy and found his home at the major league level, he managed to hit only 16 home runs to go along with 52 runs batted in. This breakout year is truly a feel good story, as Aguilar is one of the nicest guys you will find in the majors and worked his ass off to get to this point. This is also huge for the Brewers as they have failed to claim a solid first basemen since the days of Prince Fielder. In 2019, I expect Aguilar to have much of the same success he had in 2018, and predict that he will finish the year with 30 homers, over 100 RBIs and anywhere from 40-50 doubles hit. If these numbers come into fruition, the Brewers will find themselves playing baseball once again, in late October.
This is usually the place in the article where I would talk about the team’s starting rotation. But I am not going to do that. Why? Because I feel they are simply not worthy of being mentioned. Instead, I am going to talk about the second best bullpen in baseball that will make or break this team in 2019. Last season, the Brewers bullpen composed of stars. Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Josh Hader were as stout and effective of a pen as this game as ever seen. The three finished the season with an average ERA of 2.43, accumulated a total of 320 strike outs and allowed just 21 home runs all year long. Jeffress and Hader were also both selected to their first career all-star game along with Hader finishing in the top ten of Cy Young voting. This three-headed monster wasn’t just good in 2018, it was flat-out unfair. Led by the best bullpen arm in baseball, there is no telling just how far they can go and you can expect much of the same success from them in 2019.
The decision of where to land the Brewers in 2019, may have been the toughest throughout my journey. On one hand, I am absolutely infatuated with the Brew Crew’s lineup and think they have the capabilities to do special things this summer. But on the other hand, I do not like the Brewers starting pitching staff one bit and feel like it could be their kryptonite. They also have a top 2 bullpen in baseball so that has to be taken into consideration. This is not easy. After a long, hard and thought out process, I have decided to give the Brewers a 88-74 record in 2019 and have them finishing third in the NL Central behind the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. However, I have them sneaking into the wild card and see them taking a trip to St. Louis to face the Cardinals in the WC game. This division is going to be stacked with talent and picking a winner from it, is like picking the right numbers to the lottery. Overall, I feel that the Brewers are going to be a fun team to watch this year and will be one of those teams, you just can’t take your eyes off of.