COMMENTARY | Postseason baseball is upon us and for the 40th time in their 44-year existence, the Milwaukee Brewers will be watching from the couch rather than participating.
No matter if you're the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees, failing to reach the playoffs is a disappointment. Just how much of a disappointment depends on the reasonable expectations you place on yourself as a franchise before the start of the season.
There are several factors to weigh when setting these expectations, such as injuries, returning talent and offseason acquisitions as well as the level of competition in your division. For the Brewers, three teams from the NL Central reached the postseason, which just goes to show how difficult of a path was laid out in front of Milwaukee.
All that being said, most can agree that 2013 was a failure for the Brewers, and for those of you who still don't have that mindset, here are five reasons to convince you otherwise:
Fell short of expectations
The biggest determining factor when it comes to success or failure is if you matched or exceeded the expectations people outside of the organization placed on you. Milwaukee was coming off a winning season, but concerns about the starting rotation and bullpen didn't have hardly anyone projecting the Brewers as a playoff team.
In February, Bovada set the over/under win total at 81.5 for Milwaukee, meaning it would be a disappointment if the Brewers failed to finish .500. And that was before the signing of Kyle Lohse right before the start of the season.
With the Brewers winning only 74 games, they fell over seven games short of that expectancy. Point to injuries, poor starting pitching or whatever you may choose -- 74-88 is not what pundits had in store for Milwaukee.
And still didn't get a good draft pick
If a team isn't going to make the postseason, a high draft pick isn't a bad consolation prize. At one point during the 2013 season, the Brewers were in line for a top 5 selection in the 2014 MLB draft.
For a franchise with a depleted farm system, landing a big-time prospect in the draft is exactly what the Brewers need.
Instead, they went on to win six of their final eight games and are now slated with the No. 12 pick. In fairness, the MLB draft is perhaps the most inexact science among the major sports when it comes to top picks panning out, but Milwaukee's chances of getting a game-changer took a significant hit based on how it closed out the 2013 season.
Even when the Brewers win, they lose.
Pitchers failed to take next step
In order for the Brewers to exceed expectations and reach the postseason in 2013, they were going to need some players to progress. Unfortunately, not only did they see players like Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta fail to build off of last season, but they also took a step back.
Gallardo had the worst season of his big league career, posting a 4.18 ERA despite a strong finish to the season. Peralta's inconsistencies and lack of run support resulted in 15 losses and a 4.37 ERA after bursting onto the scene at the end of 2012, although his moments of brilliance provided reasons to be optimistic moving forward.
A lot of Milwaukee's projected success was based off these pitchers -- you can throw in Mike Fiers, as well -- taking the next step, and the Brewers simply didn't get that.
Poor personnel, on-field decisions set team back
Manager Ron Roenicke had some strategies in place this season, and let's just say they backfired -- a lot.
The contact play, for one, almost single handedly resulted in the Brewers ranking first in the league in outs on the bases. At times, aggressive baserunning looked more like brain-dead baserunning, and that goes back to Roenicke's style of managing. He also has an infatuation with bunting, but, then again, so does just about every manager in the game.
There was also the way Roenicke managed his personnel, continuously using Yuniesky Betancourt, who advanced metrics rate as one of the worst players in baseball. First base in general was a complete mess for Milwaukee all season long, and injuries certainly didn't help the matter.
A hero became a zero
You can guess where this is going.
Ryan Braun, once one of the most revered players in franchise history, was busted (again) for performance-enhancing drug use. The result was a 65-game suspension (the remainder of the 2013 season), a dejected fan base and a complete perception 180.
Not having Braun in the lineup for an extended period of time is an obvious hindrance, but it goes beyond that. Can he ever get back in the good graces of Milwaukee's fan base after lying for so long? Can he still put up MVP-caliber numbers?
Those are colossal questions that will be answered one day, but, for now, a player that was once a hero is now one of the most despised players not only in Milwaukee but also in all of baseball.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
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