Who's Powered the Brewers Down the Stretch?

September 26th, 2023

The Brewers late-season surge dates back to a very specific point in the mind of manager Craig Counsell.

“The confidence that you guys have had in each other since we left LA, that’s special man,” Counsell said after Friday night’s postseason clinch.

And the Brewers skipper is right. Since getting swept in LA, the Brewers are 23-11 with a suddenly explosive offense. With nine games left to play, a division race that was once was shaping up as a photo finish has transformed into a one-team show -- the Brewers have cruised to a six game NL Central lead.

Here’s a look at how the Brewers have turned things around at the plate in the second half of the season.

The Canha Effect

One could argue that Mark Canha has been the single-most impactful deadline addition made by any MLB team this summer.

Since being swapped from the Big Apple to the Brew City, Canha has been one of the most productive bats on the team, putting up an outstanding .296/.388/.451 slash line in 46 games as a Brewer. Canha’s also belted five home runs in a Milwaukee uniform, including a massive grand slam against the Nationals on Sept. 16.

His arrival to Milwaukee has seemingly injected new life into the Brewers offense, especially compared to their first half numbers. Here’s the club’s offensive numbers before and after Canha’s midseason arrival.

Pre-Trade Deadline                        Post-Trade Deadline

BA: .233                                             BA: .254

OBP: .312                                          OBP: .334

SLG: .377                                           SLG: .403

Runs per game: 4.15                      Runs Per Game: 5.37

Contreras’ Elite Second Half

Last Winter’s acquisition of William Contreras and Joel Payamps just keeps paying dividends for Milwaukee.

According to Fangraphs, William Contreras is just the third catcher in Brewers history to compile a 5.0+ fWAR season, joining Jonathan Lucroy (who did it four times) and Yasmani Grandal (2019).

Impressively, the majority of Contreras’ damage has been done over the course of the second half. Despite playing in less games, he’s outpaced his first half totals in most major offensive categories and his second half wRC+ of 135 not only leads the Brewers, but also all NL catchers in that timeframe.

With a postseason run looming, it’s safe to say William Contreras will be a huge factor near the top of the order. The Crew will need their biggest bat to continue his sensational run into October.

Rookies in Key Roles Down the Stretch

While veterans like Mark Canha and William Contreras have led the charge, a few promising Brewers rookies provided an invaluable boost right behind them.

Sal Frelick recorded a debut for the ages back in late July, right around where things started clicking for the Brewers. Since then, Frelick has followed up with some gravity-defying outfield defense and a veteran-like approach at the plate. The rookie’s 1.2 second half fWAR ranks third on the club, only behind Contreras and Willy Adames.

Additionally, rookie third baseman Andrew Monasterio has stepped into a prominent role down the stretch run, providing timely hitting (.263 batting average) and a steady glove (seven defensive runs saved) to the hot corner.

Contributions from rookies have been a huge part of the Brewers success this season. Look for these rookies to keep stepping up as the Postseason draws near.