Opening Day in Cream City showed exactly how the averages work. In 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers were the worst fielding team in Major League Baseball. Only the Minnesota Twins came close, but the Twinkies were still a distance from their Southern neighbors. The illustrious Brew Crew committed 136 errors last season. In all honestly, they also probably led the league in mental errors. Their fielding average was .978.
In pitching, they had the third worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers had fewer. In relief pitching, they had the fifth worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers, who where joined by the Giants and the Tigers, were less effective.
This led the management to stress fielding and pitching in spring training. Let’s concentrate on fielding. While they let their second baseman go on waivers, and traded away both of their catchers, their strength up the middle would be at a premium this season. It didn’t work that way. One of the new catchers they obtained as one of two second stringers from other teams (remember, they traded away their All-Star catcher who also was an excellent hitter, a rare combination in the game of baseball), committed two (2) errors in his first game. Both were on throws. Then the eclectic Jonathan Villar, who now plays second, gave an over enthusiastic throw in a critical situation into the home team’s dugout, striking the back of the Double Bubble plastic pail with such authority, the reserves thought it was Halloween, thus allowing runners to advance and eventually score the go-ahead and winning runs.
As for pitching, their Opening Day starter, Guerra, suffered a pulled calf in the bottom of the 3rd while batting and running to first. Then the bullpen came in and gave the game away. Well, to be specific Jhan Carlos Mariñez gave it away. Get this, after 1/3rd of an inning, he gave up 2 runs and 3 hits, walked a batter for an ERA into infinity, or in Mr. Mariñez case, an ERA of 27.00. He will have to pitch a zillion innings to find respect.
OK. It’s only the first game. But familiarity is ever present.
While Miller Park was packed, new food venues were opened with local goods, and Big Jim West was behind the plate as the Hot Dog won the Sausage Race, the team on the field looked the same.
It is good to love mediocrity if you live in Milwaukee. After all, with one of the lowest payrolls (‘Managable’ as the owner said on television on Opening Day) in The Show, the Pigsville Nine will always perform to their averages. And that means it will be a long, long season in the ‘Gathering place [by the water]’. Gemütlichkeit!