It was a fifth consecutive year out of contention for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2016 season.
The club and its fans suffered through a second straight losing campaign.
It was also the second year in a row in which they finished more than 30 games back of the division leaders.
The fourth place finish marked a seventh time in the last eight years that they finished no higher than third place.
The Brewers won the NL Central crown in the 2011 season. But that is an oasis in a veritable desert of failure. It marks the organization’s only division title in the last three and a half decades.
In their updated MLB organization rankings back in August, Bleacher Report rated the Brewers farm system as the second best in baseball.
While there may be some help coming from below, most of the better prospects are between 20-22 years of age. That help may not come for another couple of years.
BREWERS 2016 OFFENSIVE STATS LEADERS
First baseman Chris Carter blasted 41 home runs and produced 94 RBI to lead the club in both categories this season.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar was outstanding. He stole 62 bags, hitting for a .285 average with a .369 on-base percentage. He banged 19 homers, scored 92 runs, and led the club with 38 doubles.
Prior to being dealt to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline, catcher Jonathan Lucroy was leading the team with a .299 average. He had 13 homers, 50 RBI, and 48 runs scored in 376 plate appearances with the Brew Crew.
BREWERS 2016 PITCHING LEADERS
On the mound, 23-year old rookie Zach Davies won 11 games, the only pitcher to win in double digits this year. He had a fine 135/38 K:BB ratio over 163.1 innings.
31-year old Junior Guerra broke through in his first full big league season after a colorful career path to lead the starters in ERA at 2.81 and WHIP with a 1.126 mark.
Guerra went 9-3 and allowed just 94 hits in 121.2 innings. Following the season he was voted by the writers covering the team as the club’s top pitcher this past season.
Jeremy Jeffress recorded 27 Saves before going to Texas in the same deal as Lucroy. Tyler Thornburg registered 13 Saves with a 2.15 ERA, allowing just 38 hits in 67 innings with a 90/25 K:BB ratio.
Righty Carlos Torres was also strong out of the Brewers pen. He allowed 65 hits over 82.1 innings with a 78/30 K:BB ratio in a team-high 72 games.
BRAUN STILL PROVIDES THE BRAWN
The best all-around player in a Brewers uniform this season was once again their left fielder, Ryan Braun.
He led the club with a 4.4 WAR mark while hitting for a .305/.365/.538 slash line. Braun provided 30 homers, 91 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 16 steals to the Milwaukee offensive attack.
There have been trade rumors buzzing around the longtime Brewers offensive centerpiece following his productive season. Braun turned 33 years old just last week, and is owed more than $90 million over the next five years.
A hot rumor back at the MLB trade deadline was of a straight-up dealing, with Braun going to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Yasiel Puig. Just two weeks ago, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick quoted an NL scout on whether such a deal could be revived during this Hot Stove season.
“Braun is a very good fit for the Dodgers given how bad they have been against left-handed pitchers,’‘ the scout said per Crasnick.
“It will be an interesting cat-mouse game, though. L.A. knows Milwaukee probably wants to move Braun’s money. Milwaukee knows L.A. probably wants to move Puig. I assume there will have to be other pieces here. Maybe Milwaukee sends another major league piece to the Dodgers, and the Dodgers send back prospects. It’s a good fit on paper, but it might not be super easy to get the right deal.”
This will be an interesting situation to watch over the next couple of months. But no matter what uniform he is wearing next season, in 2016 Ryan Braun was the Milwaukee Brewers Player of the Year.