It was only 2011 when the Milwaukee Brewers were on top of the National League Central and looking like a team to be reckoned with for seasons to come. Then Prince Fielder walked away in free agency leaving a void in the middle of their lineup. Aramis Ramirez filled the cleanup spot to the best of his ability but Milwaukee was unable to overcome the league’s worst bullpen. They managed to finish at 83-79 and even sneak into the wild card discussion but recent departures and injuries have their 2013 season in jeopardy. Milwaukee has several fantasy baseball options scattered throughout the spectrum.
Ryan Braun has been in the center of the performance-enhancing drug scandal this off-season with additional sources testifying against him. Braun has done well to put the distractions behind him on the field but the heat will certainly be on in 2013. After controversy swirled around Braun’s 2011 MVP, he failed to regain the honor despite top three finishes in average, home runs and RBIs.
Braun is in the debate for top pick in upcoming fantasy drafts along with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Braun is worthy of the honor after averaging .326, 37 homers, 111 RBIs and 31 steals over the past two seasons. He will continue to be the cornerstone of the Milwaukee lineup despite a likely decline in the offense’s run production.
Aramis Ramirez is one of the more underrated fantasy baseball players in the league. He is rarely regarded in the same category as other elite third baseman but more often than not reaches .300 and 25+ home runs. He is starting to reach an advanced age but his bat can be counted on in 2013.
Milwaukee will begin the season without their third big bat, Corey Hart. Hart’s absence and the season-ending injury to Mat Gamel leave Milwaukee thin at first base. Luckily, Hart should be back to full strength by the time the calendar turns to May.
The one area that Milwaukee will excel is on the base paths. They feature five players that project to reach double digit steals, which will help compensate for a weak bottom third of the lineup.
Yovani Gallardo will be the one sure thing for the Milwaukee rotation, with question marks in the two through five slots. Gallardo has been consistent as the anchor of this rotation, never allowing his ERA to exceed four. He will once again be a low-end number one starter in fantasy baseball.
Michael Fiers looked great at times last season but is still an unproven commodity. His win-loss record did not accurately reflect his success, as he struck out slightly more than one batter per inning and registered an ERA of 3.74
Milwaukee’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. Ryan Braun, 2. Aramis Ramirez, 3. Rickie Weeks, 4. Corey Hart, 5. Norichika Aoki.
Milwaukee’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Yovani Gallardo, 2. Michael Fiers, 3. Marco Estrada
Milwaukee projected record: 78-84
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.