I tend to think it’s not hard to understand why projection systems are so wildly varied in how they view the Brewers. On the one hand, they try to project out the rotation, and it looks terrible. They regard the bullpen well, but capturing all the wins a good bullpen – when well-used – can generate is very difficult for a series of algorithms. Ditto for defense.
The reality should probably be somewhere in the middle, and we’ve got another set of projections (the ones I tend to like the best) to look into for the team that snagged the NL Central crown from the Cubs:
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) February 8, 2019
As you can pretty plainly see, ZiPS is buying the Cain/Yelich duo as being fantastic again in 2019, and the bullpen projects (appropriately) as loaded. Travis Shaw projects to continuing being solidly above-average, catching addition Yasmani Grandal projects to be one of the better catchers in baseball (without even considering his framing), and ZiPS thinks Jesus Aguilar can keep on hitting (.258/.333/.492, 115 wRC+).
Compared with Steamer, at least, ZiPS actually kinda likes the Brewers’ starting pitching options in the aggregate. No stars, but lots of guys would could at least be league average (~2.0 WAR over a full season). In fact, if any of these guys individually got a full complement of innings, ZiPS likes them even more, with each of Peralta and Burnes also projecting for over 2.0 WAR.
To the extent you were looking at ZiPS to show up and project surprising weaknesses for the Brewers, you’re just not going to find them here. The bullpen looks great. The offense looks very good. And the rotation looks surprisingly fine. Only the middle infield projects poorly, and I suspect the Brewers are going to make an addition at second base sooner or later (or bring back Mike Moustakas and move Shaw to second for a year, awaiting the arrival of top prospect Keston Hiura).
The Brewers are probably going to be good and competitive again in 2019, folks. You already suspected that, but the data suggests it, too.
Check out the full Brewers ZiPS here. The Cubs will be the final team unveiled in the NL Central.