Let the post-mortems begin. It's been a long, ugly season with plenty of blame to be spread around. But, before you can move forward, it's best to know where you stand at present. Therefore, end of season assessments are in order.
First up, position players. The Brewers finished dead last in the NL in runs scored. And they were below average at turning balls into play into outs. That's basically an overall grade of F right there. But, I'm sure we're more interested in grading individuals.
My methodology for grading position players is going to be based mainly on how they hit, with fielding and baserunning taken into account where relevant. Baseball Prospectus has a metric called Equivalent Average, and more to the point, Runs Above Position (i.e. how many runs were created compared to a "Joe Average" hitter at the position) and Runs Above Replacement at Position (i.e. how many runs were created compared to "Joe Replacement Level / AAAA" hitter at the same position). I'll be making use of the latter two metrics, which include baserunning, as well as basic hitting in my evaluations.
First though, let's start by taking a look at how "Joe Average" stands at each of the positions as a hitter.
Now on to the hitters.
Jose Hernandez (BA/OBP/SLG) (.288/.356/.478) RAP: 18.4 RARP: 35.3
Your 2002 Brewers' MVP. Arguably the best SS in the NL, offensively and defensively, with only Edgar Renteria having an argument. Still, best in the NL isn't exactly in ARod territory. And, his ducking the single season K record in the latter part of the season was embarrassing.
Richie Sexson (.279/.363/.504) RAP: 7.8 RARP: 32.0
A solid year. A deserving All Star who declined a bit in the second half and was passed by Bagwell and others for value in the NL. A lingering hamstring injury no doubt played a role in the decline. Gold Glove quality defense adds to his value. Still, an .867 OPS is a cut below the elite.
Tyler Houston (.302/.347/.459) RAP: 4.6 RARP: 13.1
Said some controversial things off the field, but he was solid on the field. Was traded in midseason for Ben Diggins and Shane Nance, which appears to be a solid haul. Fell off a cliff in L.A., but that wasn't the Brewers' problem.
Keith Ginter (.237/.363/.382) RAP: 0.9 RARP: 3.5
Had his ups and downs, but looked like a solid trade acquisition. Displayed some patience and power and wasn't a liability defensively. Probably doesn't have the highest ceiling, especially at third base, but deserves a starting job next year.
Robert Machado (.255/.310/.373) RAP: -1.1 RARP: 3.6
Your basic average catcher. Didn't do anything spectacular with the Brewers, but wasn't a liability either. Unlikely to improve, but isn't likely to be a liability either in the near future.
Alex Ochoa (.256/.357/.381) RAP: -5.2 RARP: 4.2
Didn't hit for much power, but got on base at a good clip, played good defense and was always available. Was arguably the Brewers' best outfielder, but lost time to players with bigger contracts, Hammonds and Jenkins, or with future potential, Sanchez. Was traded at the July deadline for a salary savings, but the prospects gotten in return don't appear to be anything special.
Alex Sanchez (.289/.343/.358) RAP: -7.8 RARP: 7.6
Hit for a good average, got on base at a good rate, and stole bases at a better than breakeven rate. Also, hit for not a lick of power, somewhat mitigated by batting leadoff, was bad defensively, made a lot of poor decisions on the basepaths, and was fragile. Not a bad player for his salary and age, but needs to show improvement. Still, he was the Brewers' rookie of the year.
Mark Loretta (.267/.350/.359) RAP: -3.4 RARP: 4.6
Got lost in a numbers game, but was arguably the Brewers best second baseman this year. Was definitely underpowered playing third base. In what looks like one of Dean Taylor's best trades, he was traded at the end of August for Keith Ginter and Wayne Franklin.
Eric Young (.280/.338/.369) RAP: -1.9 RARP: 15.2
As a symbol of the Brewers' lack of direction and desire for the quick fix, he would merit an F, but he bounced back from a terrible start to basically hit like an average second baseman. Still, he's a below average defender and was leading all major leaguers in runs cost on the basepaths in late August.
Matt Stairs (.244/.349/.478) RAP: 1.8 RARP: 13.3
Had some injuries early, but bounced back to put up some decent numbers as a corner outfielder. He was slow, bad defensively, and probably would be better off being a first baseman or a DH instead of a corner outfielder, but he was good value for his salary.
Lenny Harris (.305/.355/.411) RAP: -2.1 RARP: 5.6
Got way more playing time than a 38 year old deserved on this team. As a symbol of the Brewers' lack of vision, he deserves an F. Still, he posted better numbers in the second half than anyone expected and couldn't be faulted for lack of effort. He was underpowered for his positions and below average defensively.
Jeffrey Hammonds (.257/.332/.397) RAP: -10.0 RARP: 7.9
Had a solid first two months and then fell off a cliff in June. His overall numbers would be fine if he was playing middle infield, but are awful for a corner outfielder. Looks like the most expensive free agent bust in Milwaukee history.
Ryan Thompson (.248/.295/.518) RAP: -2.0 RARP: 3.9
Didn't walk a lick, but displayed some power. At 34, he's not the future, but he wasn't taking playing time away from anyone with a future either. Adequate 5th outfielder.
Geoff Jenkins (.243/.320/.444) RAP: -6.7 RARP: 3.8
Had a bad year and then got hurt in a serious injury. Again. Still could bounce back, but his contract looks less and less like a good deal with every passing day.
Paul Bako (.239/.295/.329) RAP: -8.0 RARP: -0.4
Exhibit A in why catcher is the weakest position in MLB. Essentially the definition of replacement level.
Ron Belliard (.211/.257/.287) RAP: -23.0 RARP: -12.1
With an assist by the coaching staff, he had a terrible year. He got very inconsistent playing time, but did absolutely nothing to justify more.
Jorge Fabregas (.164/.178/.343) RAP: -6.2 RARP: -3.6
Simply put, he's not as good offensively or defensively as Henry Blanco. He has some defensive value, but that's about it.
Ryan Christenson (.155/.222/.276) RAP: -6.7 RARP: -4.3
He's just an emergency, AAA centerfielder. He's decent defensively but he offers nothing much offensively. No upside here. Was a waste of a Rule 5 pick.
Jim Rushford (.143/.214/.208) RAP: -11.0 RARP: -7.5
A nice story, and had a fine year in the minors, but he came up hacking away and posted terrible offensive numbers.
Raul Casanova (.184/.273/.230) RAP: -6.1 RARP: -3.2
To steal a clich