If you're going to be bad, you might as well score a lot of runs on your way there, and the Brewers might be that kind of bad team this season.
They ranked just 11th in the NL in runs scored last season, however their 194 home runs as a team ranked sixth, giving Bernie Brewer plenty of opportunities to go down his slide. At least give the fans something to cheer about.
The Brewers should give Fantasy players plenty to cheer about too. In addition to an obvious stud like Ryan Braun, this team has plenty of intriguing young and/or unproven guys like Jonathan Villar, Domingo Santana, Hernan Perez and Keon Broxton, not to mention castoffs and change-of-scenery players like Travis Shaw and Eric Thames who have real opportunities to contribute as sleepers.
That's a lot of names to cover, which hints at least one problem with the Brewers for Fantasy purposes; they might actually have too many names to cover. And potentially not enough plate appearances for everyone, especially once some of the highly-touted prospects in the organization start pushing for playing time. Someone is going to get forced out of the lineup, and it might just be your favorite sleeper.
Still -- as long as you ignore the rotation -- there's a lot to like about this team for Fantasy in 2017.
Was 2016 Jonathan Villar's career year?
Villar's major-league career can actually be separated pretty easily between his pre-2016 numbers and what he actually did in 2016, which provides an interesting contrast:
Pre-2016: 658 PA, .236/.300/.353, 10 HR, 75 R, 46 RBI, 42 SB, 8.1 BB%, 27.4 K%
2016: 679 PA, .285/.369/.457, 19 HR, 92 R, 63 RBI, 62 SB, 11.6 BB%, 25.6 K%
Villar was better in pretty much every possible way in 2016, but it still represents just over half of his major-league plate appearances to date. Despite his success last season, it's hard to say that Villar definitely turned over a new leaf. Especially since his triple-slash line in 2016 represented the best of his career -- even including partial minor-league seasons. In every way, Villar was better in 2016 than we've ever seen from him.
That isn't to say you should write it off entirely. It happened, after all, and he wouldn't be the first player to take a big step forward in his mid-20's. Still, it probably makes more sense to assume the total sum of his time in the majors is a better reflection of his true talent; Villar isn't as bad as he was pre-2016, but he might not be as good as he was last season either.
If that's the case, what should we expect from him? Here are his career numbers, projected out to last season's playing time:
.261/.336/.405, 15 HR, 85 R, 55 RBI, 53 SB, 9.9 BB%, 26.5 K%
That's not quite 2016, but it's a pretty valuable player. View Villar that way.
Can Eric Thames' power translate?
Eric Thames may just have the best timing ever. After flaming out of a pro career in America, he took his talents to Korea in 2014, right at the start of an unprecedented power spike. In the three seasons Thames spent in the Korean Baseball Organization, the nine teams in the league combined for 4,138 home runs; in the previous three seasons, there were 2,183 homers. That's a 90 percent increase, and runs per game jumped up from an average of 4.65 in 2013 all the way to 5.68 in 2016, Thames' final season in the KBO before joining the Brewers this offseason.
Thames was, to be sure, incredible in the KBO. He posted a combined .348/.450/.720 triple-slash line, while ranking in the top three in homers each season and even winning a batting title. The KBO might have seen a power spike, but Thames was still among the best hitters in the league, posting similar numbers to Jung Ho Kang's final season in Korea.
Kang has translated well to the majors, posting an .838 OPS in two seasons, but fellow Korean import Byung Ho Park didn't translate quite as well, hitting for power but still sporting just a .684 OPS in the majors in 2016. Thames' success in the KBO is not necessarily a sure sign of success in the majors, but he's going to get a chance to prove himself. And playing in Miller Park should help him make the most of his opportunity. He is certainly worth a late-round flier.
What is Lewis Brinson's ETA?
The centerpiece of the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Texas last summer, Brinson enters the season as one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, and will undoubtedly make his major-league debut sometime this season. However, with just 130 plate appearances to his name at Triple-A, the question at this point is when Fantasy players can expect to see him. Right now, he isn't really being considered a Fantasy viable option the way, say, Yoan Moncada is, especially given his struggled at Double-A, where he hit just .237/.280/.431 last season.
However, the Brewers did send him to Triple-A Colorado Springs after acquiring him last season, where he hit .382 with four homers in 23 games, so they certainly weren't afraid of being aggressive with him last season. With a career .280/.345/.492 line and 24 homers and 27 steals per-150 games in the minors, he certainly has the skills to be a major-league contributor. It would be a surprise if the Brewers gave him a chance to win a job in the outfield out of spring training, so Fantasy players will need to keep him on their radars.
Brinson is probably a long-shot to get a job out of the spring, but you would have to bet on him making it to the majors by June, making him exactly the kind of prospect you need to have on your radar. He might even be worth a late-round flier if you have to draft before the end of the spring, just in case he does win a job.