Brewers a team of extremes
But the third baseman can’t explain why the entire Brewers’ offense has been involved in such wild swings during the first six weeks of the season.
Milwaukee has won games on the road 20-0, 17-3 and 17-3, but the Brewers also been shut out four times in a 20-game span and hold the NL’s worst record at home (4-11). They are 15-19 overall, with a 11-8 road mark.
Only one other club—the 1930 Cubs—can match that sort of inconsistency over 30 games.
“The general consensus, I wouldn’t say in here, but it seems like around town is, ‘Hey, you’re doing great, you’re going to do blah-blah-blah’ and the next week it’s ‘These guys are … terrible,’” said McGehee, who is hitting .323 with seven homers and 32 RBIs. “We’ve probably had 10 games where across the board we haven’t played well. We’ve probably had 10 games where across the board we’ve played really well and then the other ones were ‘eh.’
“We’re about where we should be with the way we’ve put it together at this point.”
That would be very average so far despite being one of the top run-producing teams in the league even with Fielder scuffling with a .254 average, four homers and 15 RBIs.
Before this year, the Brewers never had three games in a season with at least 17 runs in the franchise’s previous 41 seasons. Only once did the team have power surges so close together as its 20-0 win on April 22 against Pittsburgh followed by a 17-3 rout four days later.
That was in 1999 against the Cubs, but the Brewers went more than 10 years without 17 runs in a game before the Pirates’ routs. Then in Arizona on May 8, the team hung 17 more on the Diamondbacks in the second of a three-game sweep.
According to STATS LLC, the only teams since 1900 to have at least three games with 17 or more runs and three games with no runs over a 30-game span were the 1920 Yankees, 1930 Cubs, 2007 Royals and this year’s Brewers.
Those 1930 Cubs were the only team to match the Brewers by being shutout four times.
“It’s extremely weird,” said outfielder Ryan Braun. “I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason for it right now. I don’t think there’s really any logical explanation. … I wish we can say ‘Let’s only score five today and five tomorrow,’ but it just doesn’t work that way.”
Maybe they need six.
Milwaukee is 3-18 when scoring five runs or less. That would point to a shaky pitching staff, which is in the middle of the pack in the majors despite the addition of free agents Randy Wolf and Doug Davis.
Wolf has been sharp, but Davis has struggled and Milwaukee’s overall pitching numbers are on par with last season. There’s also the troubling performance of all-times saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who has a 12.00 ERA in 12 appearances with four blown saves.
General manager Doug Melvin said most clubs at this point of the season are still trying to determine whether they’ll be the type of team that wins with pitching or hitting.
“What kind of team is ours? The one that might score 15 one day and none the next day,” he said.
Melvin said he looks at the stats of the recently signed free agent pitchers to see if there was someone else they might have added instead, but he’s still satisfied with his signings. He also said he’s not a big believer in delving deeply into the numbers of why the Brewers haven’t been successful so far.
“I don’t look at games much beyond five or six runs if you’re winning the game, they’re just extra runs that don’t mean as much,” he said. “Pitchers can only pitch a shutout, they can’t pile runs on.”
The sorry record at Miller Park hasn’t helped, either.
“I remember going to games when I was younger. You don’t want to go see your team lose, especially when you go. It’s a lot easier to get into the game when the team’s winning,” McGehee said. “As much as the numbers are part of this game, I think it’s more part of the game for the people watching it, more so than when you’re in the heat of the battle.
“When you really, really break it down the only numbers that count is how many runs you help (produce) and how many runs you save. There’s really not a number for that.”