There’s not much to talk about in Brewer Land until the end of the postseason, so ’tis the season for player grades. When I did these last year, it ended up being so long that I broke it up into three parts — D’s and F’s, B’s and C’s, and A’s. I’ll do the same thing this year, starting with those that are bringing up the rear. For the sake of comparison, last year’s stinkers can be found in the October 2009 archives.
Alcides Escobar (D+): We knew there would be growing pains, but I think even the most pessimistic among us expected more out of Escobar offensively. Compared to last season in AAA, his walk rate actually stayed the same and he cut down his strikeouts, but the big difference was the .264 BABIP this year, as opposed to the .343 BABIP he had in Nashville. There were also some growing pains defensively, but by the end of the year he started to consistently make the plays that led to his reputation as a very good defender.
George Kottaras (D+): I had a soft spot for George, and his patience as a hitter was great to see, especially when he was hitting 8th. His batting average was hurt by an impossibly low .209 BABIP, but this grade is due mostly to his defense. We knew it was bad, we just didn’t know it’d be this bad. I’d be fine with him being the backup catcher again in 2011, but most probably wouldn’t care if he was replaced.
Dave Bush (D): It says a lot about this year’s pitching staff that for awhile, Bush was the most consistent starter they had. By the end of the year, though, he had the third lowest WPA among Brewers pitchers. He got better results than he did last year, but actually pitched worse — the ERA was lower than last year, but the FIP and xFIP were up. He’s given the Brewers a solid five seasons, but it’s time to move on.
Todd Coffey (D): Coffey just shows that it’s hard to predict the effectiveness of a middle reliever in any given year. After what could be considered a career year in 2009, Coffey struggled this year. He actually improved his K/9 rate this year, but also saw drastic increases in his BB/9 and HR/9. With so many young arms ready for the bullpen, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coffey let go.
Carlos Gomez (D-): As one of the people who dug and dug just to find a shred of hope that Gomez was improving before this season started, I feel stupid now. Compared to last year, Gomez walked less, struck out more, and was worse defensively if you trust UZR. He’s still young, but thankfully it doesn’t look like the Brewers are depending on him to be their centerfielder of the future anymore.
Manny Parra (D-): I don’t know if you could find a Brewer that was more frustrating than Parra. For every positive outing (like his 10 K start against the Cards on Sunday Night Baseball), there was an outing like the 10 ER debacle in Atlanta. Luckily, he seemed to do better in the bullpen, but I think the “Parra in the rotation” ship has sailed.
Jeff Suppan: Normally I’d leave him off for only pitching 31 innings for the Brewers, but those 31 innings helped torpedo the Brewers’ season before it even really began. Once Suppan was out of the rotation — and ultimately, off the team — the team’s pitching turned around. Thankfully, the contract is finally over.
Trevor Hoffman: Some might take offense to Hoffman’s name coming up here due to his solid end of the season, but like Suppan, his early season struggles did more to derail the team’s season than any other player. He had the worst WPA on the team by far — only Parra’s -1.99 even came close to Hoffman’s -2.53. It was nice to see him reach the 600 save mark, but pitching well in a bunch of low-leverage innings doesn’t undo the damage he did early in the year.