The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to have a good team in 2012, which means that finding keepers on their team may be a bit more difficult, as players tend to be overvalued on winning teams.
That said, there are still some players who may be under-the-radar for the Brew Crew.
1B Mat Gamel finally gets his shot at a starting role with the departure of Prince Fielder. Gamel has spent parts of the last 4 years at AAA Nashville, with a slash line of .301/.374/.512. He should be able to hit for a good average while adding 15-20 homeruns.
SP Randy Wolf is often forgotten about, sitting behind the likes of Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Yovanni Gallardo in the Brewers rotation. However, he posted a lower ERA than Greinke in 2011 and matched Marcum with 13 wins (3rd best on the team).
RP Marco Estrada is definitely a player under most people’s radars. He posted a 4.08 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 92.2 innings last year, splitting time between the bullpen and starting. As a starter, he posted a 3.70 ERA and a 1.09 whip in 7 starts and could overtake Chris Narveson for the fifth starter spot.
SP Zack Greinke’s 3.83 ERA last year was good, but there are certain indicators that say it could have been a lot better. He suffered through a very unlucky first half of the season. His .349 BABIP during the first half led to an unsightly 5.45 ERA. Once his BABIP normalized in the second half (.304), he posted a 2.59 ERA. If he can carry that forward into 2012, he could put together a season reminiscent of his 2009 Cy Young year.
2B/3B Taylor Green put himself back in the Brewers plans after a breakout season at Nashville in 2011. He hit .336/.413/.583 with 22 homeruns and earned a cup of coffee with the big club down the stretch. Capable of playing both second and third, he will likely fill the utility role in 2012 and could see significant playing time if either Rickie Weeks or Aramis Ramirez go down with an injury.
With recent news that he will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, OF Corey Hart‘s value will take a hit come draft day. That is the perfect opportunity for owners looking for keepers to pounce. Hart hit .285/.356/.510 with 26 homeruns in 2011 and should not miss a significant amount of time. However, make sure you track of his recovery for any setbacks.
C Jonathan Lucroy is not a sexy pick for your catcher’s spot, but you could do a lot worse. He hit a very quiet .265 with 12 homers last year and should be able to build on those results in 2012. While other owners are chasing the Buster Posey‘s of the world, try to sneak Lucroy through in the later stages of your draft.
All of the above players have keeper potential, at the right price. Here are some players on the Brewers who will likely not become keepers.
2B Rickie Weeks was once considered a 5 category second baseman, but injuries have long since sapped his speed and he has only one year where has has played over 130 games in his 7 years in the majors. Some owner will still look at Weeks as a 5 category guy and overdraft him. Don’t be that guy.
3B Aramis Ramirez put up some good numbers in 2011, his contract year. With third base being a surprisingly weak position, someone will likely overpay for Ramirez. Given that Ramirez has had recent injury problems and will turn 34 in June, its best to pass.
At age 35, SS Alex Gonzalez‘ is in the down slope of his career. He still has a little pop, but will not do much for your team average.