The latest PECOTA projections came out today, and they're not kind to the Brew Crew, to say the least. The verdict? 75-87, 5th place in the NL Central, and only 5 games ahead of last-place Pittsburgh. Ouch.
The folks at Baseball Prospectus do project the Brewers to score the most runs in the division (827). Unfortunately, they also project the Brewers to give up the most runs in the division, and it's not even close (895, 22 more runs than second-worst Pittsburgh). Without having a paid account, you can't see the Brewers depth chart projections, but considering who the Brewers lost and who they added, you can get an idea of how they came up with these numbers.
A lot of it has to do with unknown commodities. The guys they lost -- namely, Mike Cameron and J.J. Hardy -- are being replaced by players that are either a statistical unknown (Alcides Escobar) or a statistical underachiever (Carlos Gomez). While they upgraded their starting rotation, they did it with guys (Doug Davis, Randy Wolf) whose numbers tend to come out looking like flukes. It's also important to remember that even though the Brewers ended last season 80-82, their pythagorean record based on runs scored and allowed says they probably should have finished 78-84. Take away a few key players from that team, and you can see that the 75-win projection isn't completely baseless.
Is it accurate, though? In terms of pure talent, maybe. On-field results can -- and realistically could be -- different. The Brewers have outperformed their pythagorean record in two of the past three seasons, so it's not out of the question that they could "get lucky" again...especially with their offense.