By R.J. Anderson //
Biggest Surprise and 2011 Keeper Alert: John Axford
Axford will begin the 2011 season as the Brewers’ closer. That’s the only thing in the 27-year-old’s career that seems like a given, as he’s had one heck of a ride to this point. A former Yankee farmhand with a handlebar mustache, Axford had seven Major League appearances before appearing in 50 games last season and saving 24 games with a 2.48 ERA. A devastating strikeout rate (11.79 K/9 innings) points to a closer with staying power, even if his walk rate (4.19 BB/9 IP) is a bit worrisome and his flukishly low home run rate’s likely to edge higher next year.
Biggest Bust: Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman managed to break the 600 career saves mark in 2010, which represents a high point in his season. Otherwise, 50 appearances and 31 earned runs suggests the man who made “Hells Bells” a ballpark anthem is near the end of his career.
2011 Regression Alert: Randy Wolf
Give Wolf some credit, as he was able to squeak out one more inning in 2010 than he did in 2009, despite making 34 starts both years. Unfortunately, for Wolf and the Brewers, his ERA shot up nearly a full run, and his peripherals suggest he just didn’t pitch as well as that 4.17 figure might suggest. The National League Central is not a good division and Wolf’s history suggests he should bounce back in 2011. The problem being, of course, folks will overvalue his 2010 performance based on the ERA, innings, and wins. Let someone else overbid.