The Anatomy of a Slide
When play was said and done on May 13, the Milwaukee Brewers had a record of 25-12, good for a .676 win percentage. On June 22, they had an 8.5 game lead in the National League Central. Today, they trail the Chicago Cubs by one game in the NL Central, have gone 40-49 since May 13 and have just a .516 win percentage overall. Since June 22, they are 23-29. I will concede this is not the timeliest of pieces given that Milwaukee has taken two of three in Arizona from the D-Backs but I wanted to follow up Rich's effort on Monday featuring Ryan Braun with a look at the team as a whole.
How can a team be so good for a sustained stretch, and then so bad thereafter? Well check out the numbers below.
4/1 - 5/13 5/14 - 8/21
Estrada .304/.328/.461 .263/.282/.380
Weeks .237/.344/.443 .204/.342/.306
Hardy .325/.376/.616 .252/.304/.412
Jenkins .323/.374/.616 .251/.327/.472
As for the pitchers most responsible for the slide, presented in the respective columns is the same chronological timeframe.
ERA K/9 K/BB ERA K/9 K/BB
Suppan 3.00 4.7 2.80 5.89 4.9 1.22
Capuano 2.93 7.0 2.20 6.59 8.8 2.89
Vargas 2.65 9.8 2.85 5.50 6.3 1.66
Cordero 0.54 12.4 3.29 4.50 11.6 4.00
It's not rocket science, but it helps to see it laid out in plain view. The Brewers have slid as far back as they have because eight players who were tremendous for them at the start of the season have been terrible since they topped out with their .676 win percentage.
What has gone wrong is that Johnny Estrada, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, Geoff Jenkins, Jeff Suppan, Chris Capuano, Claudio Vargas and Francisco Cordero - key players all - started off phenomenally, maybe above their heads, and have since played well short of their respective ability levels since. Ben Sheets had been pitching phenomenally when he went down and his absence had done the Brew Crew no favors.
All is not even close to lost for the Brewers, as they are demonstrating in the desert right now. Last season's American League representative in the fall classic, the Detroit Tigers, went 25-32 over their final 57 games. There's a reason they play 162 of these things. If Milwaukee, and specifically the players mentioned above (save Capuano, who is no longer with the Big Club), can play somewhere around their ability levels, I give them a good chance to make the post-season.
That's because those first 38 games counted, even though the weather was raw and the NBA and NHL playoffs might have diverted some attention from our national pastime. Still, the time is now for these Milwaukee Brewers and it will be fascinating to see if they can reverse course once again down the stretch.
Thanks to Baseball Musings' Day By Day Database.
Also, for excellent Wisconsin sports coverage (something dear to my heart at the moment since I have a man-weekend trip to Madison for the Michigan-Wisconsin football game in November), be sure to check out The Wisconsin Sports Bar.