Milwaukee Brewers: 4 bold predictions for the 2022 MLB season
After having made the postseason for the third consecutive season (which is a franchise record), the Milwaukee Brewers enter the 2022 MLB season with plans on extending that streak to four. Reliant on dominant pitching and key hitting, the Brewers and manager Craig Counsell have yet another shot at taking home the NL Central crown.
Last season saw the Brewers win their division by five games over the St. Louis Cardinals, who were joined by the Cincinnati Reds as being the only three teams to be over-.500 in the division. A quiet offseason that only saw Milwaukee bring in former MVP Andrew McCutchen, this team is going to very similar to last year’s roster.
4 Bold Predictions for the Brewers in 2022
4. Three SP earn 12+ wins and sub-2.75 ERAs
Last year was Corbin Burnes’ year, as he turned an 11-5 record and a 2.43 ERA into the team’s first Cy Young award winner since 1982 (Pete Vuckovich). Combining Burnes with Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta on the starting pitching staff, and you have one of the nastiest staffs in the entire league.
All three of these players were brought up through the minor leagues for the Brewers, a testament to the importance they put on draft and develop. While both Burnes and Woodruff have been with Milwaukee since they were drafted, Peralta came over in a 2015 deal with the Seattle Mariners that was focused on sending slugger Adam Lind to the American League.
Last year was the career-high in wins for Burnes and Peralta, while Woodruff’s career-best nine wins came back in 2019. In terms of ERA, Burnes (2.43), Peralta (2.81), and Woodruff (2.56) all set career marks in this category for seasons with at least 10 starts, so thinking that all three options could pitch well enough to produce sub-2.75 ERAs on the season is not super unrealistic.
3. Hiura regains power, hits 30+ HRs
When drafted in the first round out of UC-Irvine, Keston Hiura was highly regarded as one of the, if not the, best pro-ready bat in the entire draft. Based on his smooth swing, ability to use both fields, and power numbers, he did quite well for a guy who does not have the prototypical build of a player known for his power numbers.
Defensively limited may be giving Hiura some credit, as he has bounced around from second to first base as the team tries to find a permanent defensive home for him. So far during spring training, Hiura looks to have regained his power stroke after having experienced a down year that saw him only go deep four times across 173 plate appearances.
With the designated hitter being implemented in the National League, it could help justify HIura’s role in the starting lineup for this team, which would then open up a chance for Hiura to focus on his offensive firepower and channel that into a career-resurgent season with great power numbers.
2. Brewers finally eclipse the 100-win mark
Up to this point, there have been two seasons of 96 wins for the Brewers in a season (2011 & 2018), and they have not been able to get over that hump yet. With the kind of roster they currently have and with who they have running it, this season looks like the perfect time to make that jump into the century club.
The Central division looks like it is going to be weak again this year, as the Pirates and Reds have already committed to using this season as a throwaway year to help build up their respective farm systems. It remains to be seen what the Chicago Cubs are doing, as they dumped players at the trade deadline last season (Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo) but made moves this offseason (including handing $71 million to Marcus Stroman) that don’t lend themselves to being a full-on tank.
St. Louis looks to be the lone divisional foe that is trying to compete this season, but their offseason did not result in a lot of major moves, meaning that the Brewers are still in the driver’s seat moving forward.
As Counsell enters his sixth full season (7th total) as the manager for the Brewers, he is regarded as one of the league’s best at what he does – mainly known for his pitching staff management and lineup creativity, Counsell is the best man for the job in Milwaukee, and it certainly doesn’t hurt he is from Wisconsin and played for the Brewers.
1. Yelich returns to MVP form, leads team back to the NLCS
The Brewers made the NL Championship Series last in 2018 when they dropped a super-tough series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3. Pretty much everything fell into place that season, including Christian Yelich earning his first MVP award.
In his first season with the Brewers, Yelich more than justified the offseason trade with the Miami Marlins, producing a .326 BA, 36 HRs, and 110 RBIs. Yelich was the biggest reason why this team in ‘18 was so good, and he has to return to that form if the Brewers want to get back there.
But ever since his broken knee cap suffered in 2019, Yelich has looked like a shell of himself. Plate discipline has taken a tumble, his power numbers have cratered, and he ultimately does not look like a player that is confident with a bat in his hands, something that forced Counsell to turn the lineup on its head to account for Yelich’s struggles.
But with his skillset, Yelich still has those skills in him, and this season is a great time to let them loose again. With a strong offensive lineup that can protect him, Yelich is primed to put his horrid seasons behind him and get back to the reasons why this team extended him for likely will be the rest of his playing career.
Expecting a 30/100 may not necessarily be in the cards after having only hit nine HRs last year, but a batting average above .315, 25+ HRs, and Gold Glove-level defense is all this team really needs to keep it in its position of power. Making it back to the NLCS is heavily reliant on Yelich finding his groove yet again and taking this time on his back as he did back in ‘18, something that looks likely to happen again in ‘22.