At this point in the year, your evaluation of the Milwaukee Brewers might reveal more about you than it does the team. If you're an optimist, then the pitching is just fine, the hitting eventually will come around, and the Crew is still in first place despite slumping through May thus far, so shut up.
If the sky is always cloudy in your world, however, you have one question: What is wrong with the offense?
Injuries have been a concern, of course. First there was Ryan Braun's strained oblique muscle, which benched him for the first half of May, and now Aramis Ramirez is on the 15-day disabled list with a bad hamstring. Throw in Carlos Gomez with his recent back problems, and you have three important hitters who haven't been in the lineup enough lately.
Assuming everyone returns to full health, though, the offense appears to face other daunting problems. The Brewers are simply an impatient team at the plate, and they're not getting enough base runners to win consistently.
As play ended Monday, the free-swinging Brewers were 26th out of 30 major-league teams in on-base percentage (OBP), a weird statistic for a club that was 27-18 and leading its division by 3-1/2 games. One easy way to increase OBP is to take more pitches and draw walks, but the Brewers aren't doing that. As baseball writer Tom Verducci observed, "Milwaukee is either on the cutting edge of a counterculture -- in which running up pitch counts doesn't matter nearly as much as most people want to think -- or they are an unsustainable model off to a freakish start that is bound not to last."
If journalists have noticed a problem, you can bet that opposing teams caught on even faster and are preparing their scouting reports for Milwaukee accordingly. How the Brewers respond will go a long way in determining the success of their season.