Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 5/24/12
MILWAUKEE Next to his locker in the Brewers clubhouse last week, Milwaukee center fielder Nyjer Morgan said what many were thinking when it came to the Brewers' disappointing 18-26 start this season. It's not early anymore, he admitted. And it's true. With May quickly coming to a close, the Brewers can no longer excuse their slow start by pointing to a calendar. "We're just waiting for something to click," Morgan said. "Don't know when, that's the most frustrating thing about it. You just don't know when the light switch is going to go on for everybody." But will that light switch go on in time? It's almost impossible to tell. As far along as we are in the season, history tells us that there's plenty of time for things to turn around. Last year's Brewers, who fell two games short of the World Series, were just 21-23 at this point in the season. But that team was on the upswing and went on to win more than anyone else in the major leagues in the season's final 118 games. There are, of course, several mitigating factors that can make one 18-26 team look light years ahead of another 18-26 team. A simple look at Thursday's standings shows us that teams like the Detroit Tigers (20-24) and L.A. Angels (20-25) are, like the Brewers, massively underachieving through the first part of the season. But by season's end, at least two of those teams should be at least back to respectability. Will the Brewers be one of the two, though? In the past 20 years of baseball in Milwaukee, the Brewers have made the playoffs twice, winning 90 or more games in both seasons. Only once in the past 20 seasons have the Brewers won 90 or more games and not made the playoffs -- they finished second in the AL East in 1992 with 92 wins). Through that period, the 90-win plateau became a relatively reliable measuring stick for a team's potential playoff worthiness. No team since 2009 has made the playoffs with fewer than 90 wins, and in the past two decades (not counting the shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995), 15 teams have made the playoffs with a win total in the 80s. (Good news for the Brewers, 10 of those teams have come from the National League.) But no team in the past 20 years has made the playoffs with fewer than 80 wins in a 162-game season. So with that benchmark in mind, the Brewers would ideally need 72 more victories to reach the 90-win plateau. To do that, they would need to finish the season with a 72-46 record. As the hottest team in baseball down the stretch last year, the Brewers finished 75-43 through the season's final 118 games. Similarly, during Milwaukee's 1982 run to the World Series, the team tallied a 74-44 record from this point in the season on. So the truth is if the Brewers have any plans to win the division and make the playoffs, it will likely take a run similar to last season's to make it happen. That's certainly not impossible, and an extra wild-card spot in the 2012 postseason will open an extra door for a lesser NL team to sneak into the playoffs no one really knows what to expect when it comes to adding those two extra spots into the fold. But since 1992, the Brewers have had just three worse starts to the season than they have in 2012. And their best result in those circumstances was a 77-85 record in 2010. So is it too late for Milwaukee? Of course not. But is it time to start worrying about possibly missing the playoffs? Not just yet. But that time is coming sooner rather than later. Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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