The Brewers Pass Some Minor Milestones
The suddenly streaky Milwaukee Brewers went 4-1 over the last week and, in so doing, passed a minor milestone on the path to contention.
Wednesday’s 7-6 win over the Pirates was Milwaukee’s 63rd win of the season, ensuring they will avoid what would have been just the second 100-loss season in franchise history. For weeks now 100 losses has been the baseline in my occasional updates on the Brewers’ final record possibilities. I guess I’ll have to find a new one.
Sunday’s win over the Rockies pushed the Brewers to 65 victories on the season and ensured that they’ll finish better than the second-worst team in franchise history, the expansion 1969 Seattle Pilots (they already passed the 56-106 2002 team earlier in the month). If Milwaukee lost every game for the remainder of the season they would now finish 65-97, tying the 1970 and 1972 teams for the third-worst win total in a full season (excluding partial MLB seasons played in 1981, 1994 and 1995). Here are some more realistic projections:
- A minimum of 17 wins in the Brewers’ final 37 contests would clinch the team’s first winning season since 2014 and just the 16th in the franchise’s 49-year history.
- Maintaining their current pace (a .520 winning percentage) has the Brewers playing a game above .500 (19-18) the rest of the way and would give them an 84-78 record, which would have been good enough to win the NL Central in 2006 but worse than every National League playoff team since.
- Going 24-13 down the stretch would get the Brewers to 89 wins, which would be better than five of the ten teams that have won an NL Wild Card since the MLB switched to its current playoff format in 2012.
- Of course, playing one game better than that (25-12) would get the Brewers to 90 wins and a miraculous 35-2 stretch run would clinch the first 100-win season in franchise history.
The Brewers have an opportunity to move towards the projections on the bottom of that list this week as their road trip continues in San Francisco. The Giants lost to the Phillies on Sunday to fall to 50-76 on the season and while they’ve been playing better lately (they’re now 10-9 in August) they’re still just 28-45 since the start of June and have the third-worst winning percentage in all of baseball.
In the short term the Brewers have a few more small milestones in their sights:
Avoiding the worst MLB record: Any day now
At present the Brewers are 18 ½ games better than the Phillies, MLB’s worst team at 45-77. Milwaukee won’t actually clinch a finish better than Philadelphia for at least another couple of weeks (the “magic number” for that is currently 20), but they’re all but certain to finish ahead of at least one MLB team at this point: One or more franchises has lost 97 or more games (the Brewers’ current worst-case scenario) in every season since 2007.
70 wins: Five more wins
A 5-1 finish to the road trip would see the Brewers return to Miller Park with 70 wins on the season, a feat mostly made impressive by the franchise’s history of mediocrity: about one in three full seasons in franchise history to date (14 of 45) have seen the Brewers come up short of this total. Getting five wins in the nine games between now and the end of the month would give the Brewers 70 wins by September 1 for just the 10th time ever.
Defying Vegas: Seven more wins
Back in March Las Vegas oddsmakers set the line for over/under bets on the Brewers’ 2017 win total at 71.5 games, and Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated advised those considering placing a bet to take the under. Hopefully Mr. Reiter didn’t put his money where his mouth was, because the Brewers need just seven victories in their final 37 contests to make him and everyone who followed his advice a loser.