MILWAUKEE BREWERS STORY BY TIM MUMA OF BREWERS FANATIC
MILWAUKEE — Everyone knows the Milwaukee Brewers will need their elite pitching to thrive in the postseason. However, recent MLB playoff success have been driven by hitting home runs something the Brewers haven’t done much of this season.
When you break down the numbers, this is a significant concern. Entering Wednesday, the Brewers ranked 25th out of 30 MLB clubs in home runs. Their 153 dingers to date would place them 26th in franchise history.
The 2015 Kansas City Royals are the last team to reach the World Series with fewer than 175 home runs in a season (not counting 2020). While doing the “little things” in the playoffs can make a big difference, the ability to strike for multiple runs on one swing is often the game-changer come October. Because of the incredible pitching you find in the postseason, it’s an enormous challenge to string together hits and runs to score consistently.
Interestingly, the 2015 season was the last time teams scored more runs per game in the playoffs (4.36) than in the regular season (4.25). More ridiculous arms in the bullpen and managers’ willingness to take out starters early and use their top pitchers in any spot have played prominent roles in reducing scoring. Thus, the sudden two-run home run or random solo shot has become increasingly valuable.
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Of course, the more home runs you hit, the more you will score and the better chance a team has to win a game. But it’s jarring to see that playoff winning percentage jumps from .242 to .651 if a club hits two dingers, versus zero. The Brewers have the sixth-most games without a homer this year, failing to do so in 56 of their 151 contests (37.1 percent). They’ve gone 21-35 in those games, the seventh-best winning percentage (.375).
Does that mean Brewers fans should give up on any dreams of a long playoff run this year? Not at all — especially since Milwaukee can do what the 2015 Royals did: ride three top-end starting pitchers, a lockdown bullpen and one of the best defenses in baseball.
It’s no coincidence that the last homer-deficient team to reach the World Series was built like the Brewers. If your offense isn’t going to lead you to the promised land, you need elite pitching and glove work to back them up. As frustrating as the Crew’s offense can be, the hope is that Milwaukee’s pitchers and fielders make life even worse on the opposition.
Stolen bases, bunts and sacrifice flies can all be ingredients to an important win, but like it or not, the home run needs to be part of the special sauce if the Brewers will make it through the Wild Card round and pull off any upsets beyond that. Here’s to the bats getting hot and heavy at the right time.
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