The Milwaukee Brewers were the top dog in the NL Central, as the Brew Crew won their division for the second time in three seasons. To little shock, the Brewers rotation played a key role in Milwaukee’s success in 2023 — but it will look different for 2024. Here’s our recap of the Brewers’ 2023 season.
Related: 2023 MLB Season Recap: Miami Marlins
The Offensive Numbers
The past three seasons were not ideal for former NL MVP Christian Yelich, but the 31-year-old got back on track in 2023. Yelich his .278/.370/.447 with 19 home runs and 76 RBI in 2023, and went 4-8 (.500) in the NL Wild Card round.
Yelich’s back problems are a concern moving forward but his elite contact skills and ability on base still showed up in 2023.
The 31-year-old Yelich was one of three key pieces that helped power Milwaukee throughout 2023. Willy Adames hit just .217 in 2023 but did belt 24 home runs. Then there was C William Contreras, who posted a .880 OPS in the second half and ranked in the top ten in Statcast’s Catcher Framing Runs (7).
The pitching, though, was the reason why Milwaukee won the NL Central.
The Brewers bullpen ranked second in ERA, behind only the New York Yankees. Unorthodox left-hander Hoby Milner had an excellent season, as did ex-Pirate Bryse Wilson and Joel Payamps. Closer Devin Williams had himself an impressive full year as Brewers closer, as he notched 36 saves and struck out 87 over 58.2 IP.
As for the rotation, Corbin Burnes overcame rough patches in April and June to have a strong season. The same could be said for Freddy Peralta, who had trouble avoiding the “big inning” in the first half. But in the second half, the 27-year-old posted a 2.81 ERA and finished second in the Majors in strikeouts (103).
Righty Brandon Woodruff (2.28, 74:15 K:BB in 67 IP) was excellent as well but shoulder problems limited him for much of the year. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the 30-year-old won’t be available for 2024.
Milwaukee’s offense ranked middle of the pack in runs scored, as well as in the bottom ten in SLG, OPS, and wOBA.
The hope was that left-handed sluggers like Rowdy Tellez and Jesse Winker could provide steady pop in the Brewers lineup. However, each was limited by injuries, and neither posted an OPS north of .700.
Milwaukee did rely significantly on youngsters like Brice Turang, Joey Wiemer, Sal Frelick, and Garrett Mitchell. However, several of those youngsters did have growing pains. Turang and Wiemer posted low OPS figures, while Mitchell was limited to just 24 games.
What to Look For in 2024
The Brewers were once again ousted by a team that made it to the World Series, much like in 2018 and 2019. However, the road back to the MLB Postseason might get more complicated for Milwaukee in 2024.
In the short term, Milwaukee will need to contend with no Brandon Woodruff, an injury that could also affect the immediate future of Corbin Burnes. Burnes is set to be a free agent after 2024 and trade rumors have included his name in the past. However, Milwaukee may opt to hold on to Burnes in order to have a better chance to contend next season.
Milwaukee may also need a new manager. Craig Counsell’s contract is up and both the Mets and Guardians either have interviewed him or will for their managerial openings.
Yes, the rise of the Reds, Cubs, and Pirates is something else to contend with in 2024, as well as the Cardinals. The good news for the Brewers is that between the young players already up in the Majors and pieces like Jackson Chourio, Jeferson Quero, and Robert Gasser waiting in the wings, the Brewers’ future is bright.