The Milwaukee Brewers are set to enter the 2017 MLB season facing an uphill battle. After finishing 73-89 last season, the Brew Crew fell a distant 30 and a half games behind the World Series winning Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. With the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates all in the same division, making it to the playoffs will be far from a given in Milwaukee.
In other words, the Brewers are not expected to be much of a threat this year. Ryan Braun will once again anchor their lineup, although he could certainly find himself a trade candidate by midseason. Outside of the longtime Brewer, the team’s lineup will be filled with a good amount of youth.
So now let’s take a closer look at the team’s lineup.
- Jonathan Villar, 2B – Talk about bursting onto the scene in 2016. Villar, who will turn 26 this season, stole 62 bases a season ago while reaching base at a .369 clip. Add in 19 homers and the Brewers have a very solid choice to be their leadoff man. Villar offers that nice blend of power and speed while also reaching base at a decent rate that all clubs would love to have in the one hole. Given the other options on this roster, Villar is an easy pick here.
- Keon Broxton, CF – The second slot in this order is certainly up for debate. Names like Broxton, Orlando Arcia and Domingo Santana could all certainly be in the mix here. But I am opting for Broxton and his speed. To go along with Villar’s 62 bags, Broxton added 23 over the course of 75 games in 2016. Despite only hitting .242 last year, his on-base percentage was still a decent .254. He certainly is far from perfect, with a high strikeout rate to go along with a November arrest, but that does not take away from his upside. As long as he his wrist is good to go for Opening Day, I expect to see him in the two hole.
- Ryan Braun, LF – Ryan Braun returned to his old ways last season. He hit .305 to go along with 30 homers and 91 runs batted in on a pretty crappy team. Hands down he is their best hitter, so there is truly no debate on who should be hitting in the three hole for the Brew Crew. He will hold down the middle of this lineup for as long as he is wearing the team’s uniform.
- Eric Thames, 1B – Talk about one of the most interesting moves to happen this Winter. The Brewers brought in Thames, who has not played in the Majors since 2012 with the Seattle Mariners, as he had cemented himself as one of the better power hitters over in Korea. The Brewers will be counting on him for at least 20 homers this season, with 30 being more ideal. He is a big question mark given he has not seen Major League pitching for several years, but the one given is the team brought him in for his power.
- Domingo Santana, RF – Santana is a guy I really liked going into last season. Then 2016 was a mixed bag to put it kindly. In 77 games, Santana did not really do anything to stand out for the Brewers. But he still certainly has the power upside at 24-years-old. The main reason he is fifth and not sixth is that both Thames and Shaw are lefties, so he serves as that buffer to help split the two.
- Travis Shaw, 3B – Shaw is going to be turning 27 soon and he showed some serious potential at the start of last season before fading. He came to the Brewers as a part of the Tyler Thornburg deal with the Boston Red Sox and should slot right into the starting lineup. He has some solid potential but still needs to prove his worth. While I would not bank on him in fantasy, I would not be surprised to see him be one of the team’s better hitters come the end of the season.
- Andrew Susac, C – The catching position is wide open in Milwaukee this Spring. Jett Bandy and Manny Pina will be competing with Susac, who come over from the San Francisco Giants during the 2016 season. Susac was considered a pretty good prospect in San Fran, but given the presence of Buster Posey, there was not exactly room for him in the lineup. If he can live up to some of that San Francisco hype, he should be able to win this competition. Even if he does not, whoever is the starting catcher will likely find themselves in the bottom third of this order.
- Orlando Arcia, SS – Defense comes first for this young shortstop. While Arcia is a highly regarded youngster, it is his glovework that will keep him around while his bat develops. His first taste of MLB did not produce great offensive results, so I simply cannot see him at the top of the order right now. He will need to start from the bottom and work his way up. But as long as he is playing stellar defense, he will continue to play for sure.
How do you see the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting lineup shaking out for the upcoming 2017 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!