Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finding Keepers: Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers had a very productive offseason, acquiring two very exciting young arms but it remains to be seen if they gave up too much in doing so.

OF Ryan Braun is at the core of this team's offense and finished the season as the 13th-ranked fantasy player with a .304/101/25/103/14 line. It's hard to find fault with those numbers even though each was below his career average (per 162 games played) of .307/111/36/118/18. The Brewers are a team that injected a lot of optimism and energy into their 2011 season and I'd expect a player like Braun to benefit from that and produce another MVP-caliber season.

Okay, enough beating around the bush. Acquiring SP Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals sent a message to the rest of the NL Central (and all of baseball) that the Brewers were ready to make a run at winning now even though it meant sacrificing a few young players. Greinke is one season removed from winning a Cy Young award while on a very bad team. I look for him to regain his dominance and you should too by making him a keeper selection in all fantasy baseball league formats.

OF Corey Hart seemed to figure it all out after a horrific 2009 and wondering if he'd even be a starter in 2010. Merely a late round afterthought in most drafts (ADP 232.7), he rebounded to produce a .283/91/31/102/7 line, which was good enough to finish the season as the 17th-ranked outfielder. Hart is a two-time 20/20 player but has seen his stolen bases slip to just seven last season. It would be great to see him produce a 30/15 season in 2011 but regardless of the stolen bases deserves to be a keeper.

It's hard not to call a player that was drafted with an ADP of 8 and finished the season ranked 100th overall a disappointment, but I'm sure that's exactly what most 1B Prince Fielder owners would say about his 2010 performance. Fantasy managers were definitely expecting big things from Prince after his .299/103/46/141/2 line in 2009 but would be foolish to think he's not going to put up monster numbers again, especially while seeking a mega-millions type contract. If he were made available in a keeper league, I'd be questioning if the league was even worth playing in.

2B Rickie Weeks has averaged 22 home runs and 23 stolen bases (per 162 games played) over his young career and produced the 3rd-best season of all second basemen in 2010 with a .269/112/29/83/11 line. It's hard to ignore production like that when locking in your keepers but be aware that Weeks has only averaged 105 games played over the last six years with a low of 37 in 2009 and a high of 160 in 2010.

What a nice fantasy surprise 3B Casey McGehee has been over the last two seasons, producing at a .288/74/22/101/1 pace and being the ninth-ranked third baseman while holding 2B eligibility too. He'll strictly be a third baseman in 2011 but deserves serious keeper consideration at a position that drops off significantly outside of the top 10.

Best of the rest but not keepers:
  • SP Yovani Gallardo, newly-acquired SP Shaun Marcum and SP Randy Wolf round out the top four rotation spots and each could have a very good fantasy season but none are worthy of a keeper selection. All three should be available in the middle rounds of drafts when quality starting pitchers start flying off the board.
  • RP John Axford filled in very nicely as the closer when the wheels fell off of Trevor Hoffman's season. He finished the season with 24 Saves, a 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a stellar 11.79 K/9 ratio. Axford will be a fun player to own in 2011. I mean just check out his Twitter profile picture!
Looking over the Brewers roster, fans have a lot to look forward to in 2011. Did I miss anyone? Disagree with my assessment of a player? I'd love to hear from a die-hard Brewers fan that can't wait for the season to get underway and your player and team predictions.

As a new member of the Yardbarker Network, my articles are getting a lot of exposure to a much wider audience and I am grateful to all of the first-time visitors. Be sure to check out COSFBA on Twitter and Facebook, too. If you'd like to see what other teams I've already covered in my "Finding Keepers" series of articles, click here.

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