Results tagged ‘ Kyle Lohse ’

2014 Milwaukee Brewers 25-Man Roster Projection

Milwaukee Brewers

We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.

Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.

I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?

With that, to the list!

Starting Pitchers (5)

  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Marco Estrada
  • Matt Garza
  • Wily Peralta

I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.

The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.

Relief Pitchers (7)

(with one more starting on DL)

  • Jim Henderson
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Will Smith*
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Wei-Chung Wang*
  • Rob Wooten
  • Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
  • Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)

Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.

For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.

Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.

As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.

Infielders (7)

  • Mark Reynolds
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Jean Segura
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
  • Scooter Gennett**
  • Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)

Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.

Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.

The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.

For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera make the club over a fifth true outfielder.

Outfielders (4)

  • Khris Davis
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Ryan Braun
  • Logan Schafer**

Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.

* - Throws left-handed
** - Bats left-handed
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So there you have it.

I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.

Kyle Lohse Bobblehead Revealed!

Just released by the Brewers, this is what the Kyle Lohse bobbleheads will look like.

Check it out!

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #26 Kyle Lohse

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We’re rounding a crucial turn in the marathon off-season. We’re inside of four weeks until Opening Day, Cactus League games are underway, people are making crazy predictions based off of a handful of appearances…

Yup, Spring Training is like few other things in sports. However, a year ago at this time, jersey number 26 wasn’t being worn on the big league fields of Maryvale Baseball Park.

The man who would wear it in the regular season didn’t show up until the week before camp broke, though that wasn’t all his fault as he wasn’t signed until then either. He would go on to become a fast leader in the home clubhouse and have a solid first season in Milwaukee.

Of course, I’m talking about…

Kyle Lohse.

KyleLohse

As starting pitchers go, Kyle Matthew Lohse was a bit of a late bloomer. He makes no bones about that fact and is quite forthcoming in his career resuscitation with Dave Duncan in St. Louis. These last three seasons have been pretty good ones for the 35-year-old Northern California native and 13-year MLB veteran.

Lohse got paid off of his 2012 season when, despite the reduced emphasis on such things, he posted 16 Wins against just three Losses with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts. That came with career bests in innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, home run rate, walk rate, and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So why did it take so long for him to be signed?

Lohse was a 34-year-old free agent seeking three-year contract. And against the prices this off-season, his average annual value request seem even more reasonable today than it did a year ago. So it wasn’t his asking price.

Kyle Lohse carried with him two problems as a free agent. First, there was the question of how real this late-career renaissance really was. More on that in a minute. The second issue was that when the Cardinals decided not to retain Lohse, they extended him a qualifying offer under the brand new free agency system. That meant that any team signing Lohse would forfeit a draft pick and, in the Brewers case that ended up being a first-round choice. The Brewers surrendered the 17th overall pick in 2013 First-Year Player draft, so the cost to acquire their best pitcher last year cost them more than just money.

As for whether Lohse could succeed outside of the spacious Busch Stadium, he answered that well in 2013. And while he fell off from his career year in 2012, which is called such because it happens once, he still put up the following line despite a moribund month of May while dealing with a pair of injuries:

11-10, 3.35 ERA, 32 starts, 198.2 IP, 196 H, 78 R (74 ER), 26 HR, 36 BB, 125 K, 1.168 WHIP, 117 ERA+

Lohse matched his career best walk rate (1.6), so his control was still present, but he did give up 10 and seven more home runs than the two respective years prior.

So was the signing worth it for Milwaukee?

You can’t truly ever assess what was lost in the draft pick, and the team suffered collectively through that May and ended up with just 74 wins. Well, Lohse is still on the team for this 2014 run and didn’t cost another draft pick. But more than that, Lohse was routinely named by his new teammates as a leader who was willing to share what he had learned over a long career and downs and ups.

For a team that ended up relying on a calvacade of young players who were inexperienced at the big league level and for a team that dealt with many major injuries and a couple of off-the-diamond problems as well, Lohse’s steadying guidance was extremely valuable. The team will be better for it in the long run.

Post another solid season on a team and with a bit more luck, his leadership and performance could be worth far more than one extra draft pick ever could be.

2014 is a year full of potential for the Milwaukee Brewers. Lohse will be at the forefront of it all as the Brewers look to make some noise in a tough NL Central.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

Brewers On Deck to Feature Over 50 Players, Alumni, Coaches, Broadcasters

BREWERS ON DECK, PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER CABLE, TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI

Free Admission to All Fans in 2014; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force

Nearly thirty Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.

Admission to this year’s Brewers On Deck is free of charge.  Tickets are not required for the event.  Food donations will be accepted through the Hunger Task Force (peanut butter is requested by the Hunger Task Force, in particular).  Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.  Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):

Players (28)

  • Jeff Bianchi
  • Michael Blazek
  • Ryan Braun
  • Hiram Burgos
  • Khris Davis
  • Marco Estrada
  • Mike Fiers
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Scooter Gennett
  • Caleb Gindl
  • Tom Gorzelanny
  • Brooks Hall
  • Sean Halton
  • Donovan Hand
  • Johnny Hellweg
  • Jim Henderson
  • Elian Herrera
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Hunter Morris
  • Jimmy Nelson
  • Mark Reynolds
  • Jason Rogers
  • Logan Schafer
  • Jean Segura
  • Kevin Shackelford
  • Will Smith
  • Tyler Thornburg
  • Rob Wooten

Alumni (7)

  • Craig Counsell
  • Rollie Fingers
  • Jim Gantner
  • Larry Hisle
  • Geoff Jenkins
  • Gorman Thomas
  • Robin Yount

Coaches (10)

  • Ron Roenicke
  • Joe Crawford
  • Mike Guerrero
  • Marcus Hanel
  • Garth Iorg
  • Rick Kranitz
  • Johnny Narron
  • Ed Sedar
  • John Shelby
  • Lee Tunnell

Broadcasters (3)

  • Jerry Augustine
  • Dave Nelson
  • Bob Uecker

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Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family.  Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

Details regarding autographs include the following:  Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center District.  The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players.  Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session.   There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature.  There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions.  The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.

Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted next week.  The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia.  For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.

Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation.  Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.

Fans also have the opportunity to enter to win autographs from their favorite players via a #BrewersOnDeck Vine & Instagram contest, which runs through Monday, January 20. The details can be found here: http://brewers.mlblogs.com/2014/01/07/win-an-autograph-from-your-favorite-brewers-player-at-brewers-on-deck/

Brewer Nation Podcast – Off-Season Primer

Recorded on location last night, here is the latest Brewer Nation podcast.


Check the tags for some of the players mentioned during this hour-long clip.

Brewers 14 in ’14 All-Fan Giveaway Schedule

All bobbleheads and t-shirts of the 14 all-fan giveaways for the 2014 regular season have been announced. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 27th – Carlos Gomez bobblehead commemorating his Gold Glove Award

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Sunday, May 11th – Kyle Lohse bobblehead

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Friday, June 13th – T-SHIRT

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Sunday, June 15th – Vintage Brewer bobblehead

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Friday, June 27th – T-SHIRT

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Sunday, June 29th – Scooter Gennett (UPDATED!)

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Friday, July 11th – T-SHIRT

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Friday, July 25th – T-SHIRT

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Sunday, July 27th – Fans Choice bobblehead – WINNER ANNOUNCED 2/10/2014: Jim Hendersonimage


Friday, August 8th – T-SHIRT

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Sunday, August 10th – Chorizo bobblehead – in a Cerveceros jersey (first Chorizo since ’07)

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Friday, August 22nd – T-SHIRT

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Sunday, August 24th – Jean Segura bobblehead

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Sunday, September 14th – Robin Yount in a 1974 uniform

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A Letter From Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio

November 3, 2013

Dear Brewers Fans:

On behalf of everyone at the Brewers organization, from players and coaches to the front office staff, I want to thank you for your unwavering support this year. In spite of the disappointing season, you once again demonstrated why you make up the most loyal fan base in all of baseball. More than 2.5 million fans attended games at Miller Park in 2013–a number that gave us our seventh straight season of reaching that milestone, one that was not achieved by five of the teams participating in this year’s Postseason.

The 2013 season was a challenge for all of us, both on and off the field. As I stated when my ownership group purchased the Brewers in 2005, one of our primary objectives was to raise expectations for the entire club. In recent years, the team has played meaningful games late in the season, but this year we obviously fell short of that goal.

We started the spring with significant promise, with an intact lineup–one that had led the National League in runs scored in 2012–as well as a returning core of the pitching staff, fueled by the addition of free agent Kyle Lohse. However, this was not our year. We struggled through injuries, a difficult month of May, and then the disappointment of Ryan Braun’s suspension. Yet the team refused to quit. We welcomed an influx of young talent from our Minor League system and played our best baseball after the All Star Break by winning games at a .529 clip. Our starting pitchers recorded baseball’s fourth-best ERA over the final 81 games, and our offense featured key contributions from a mix of youth and veterans. While these are among the reasons we believe that 2014 holds promise, none of us is content to define success by second-half performance.

We are undergoing a thorough review of our baseball operations and will continue to incorporate new methods and strategies in evaluating and developing talent. There are many paths to improvement and success, and we plan vigorously to pursue all of them. We know we need to do better. At the same time, we believe that many of the pieces are already in place to field a competitive team in 2014. With the emergence of Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura as All Stars, the arrival of young players with high talent ceilings, and healthy seasons from key veterans, our returning offense shows real promise. The resurgent pitching staff was bolstered by a much-improved bullpen and a stable rotation. Finally, we were delighted to see Carlos Gomez become the Brewers’ first Gold Glove honoree since Robin Yount won the award in 1982.

Off the field, we continue to focus on delivering the best fan experience in all of baseball while working to give back to the community that has given so much to us. Among our achievements, we include a participation level of 100% of players in Brewers Community Foundation (BCF) outreach efforts. In 2013, BCF raised a total of $2.8 million, which benefited 200 not-for-profit organizations in the State of Wisconsin. Additionally, we distributed $10 food-and-beverage vouchers to all fans in August and offered many promotions throughout the year. We recognize that we have an ongoing obligation to provide you with an organization that always puts the fans first.

When I reread some of my letters to you from the end of prior seasons, the one constant promise I made was to deliver an organization that works daily to earn your respect. When we don’t meet our own or your expectations, we redouble our efforts. We are already hard at work preparing for exciting baseball at Miller Park throughout the 2014 season.

Go Brewers!

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Mark Attanasio
Chairman and Principal Owner

Milwaukee BBWAA Chapter’s Brewers Team Award Winners Announced

The Milwaukee Brewers announced their postseason award winners as voted by members of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). A total of eight ballots were cast for each award, assigning five points for first place, three for second and one for third.

Center fielder Carlos Gomez was voted Brewers Most Valuable Player as he received all eight first-place votes (40 points). He was followed by shortstop Jean Segura (18 points), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (13) and pitcher Kyle Lohse (1). Gomez, a first-time All-Star selection this season, batted .284 with 24 HR, 73 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 147 games.  He was among the National League leaders in triples (T2nd, 10), stolen bases (4th), slugging percentage (7th, .506) and extra-base hits (T8th, 61).  Gomez became the first player in franchise history to produce 20+ home runs and 40+ stolen bases in a season.  He was the only player in the Major Leagues to accomplish that feat in 2013. The Gold Glove Award candidate also recorded 12 assists in center field, which ranked second in the Major Leagues from that position.

Kyle Lohse was voted Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher as he received all eight first-place votes (40 points). Jim Henderson (24 points), Brandon Kintzler (7) and Yovani Gallardo (1) also received consideration. Lohse, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent on March 25, went 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 32 starts during his first season in Milwaukee. He led the team in ERA, innings pitched (198.2) and quality starts (20). He ranked fifth in the National League in fewest walks per nine innings (1.6). Lohse went 10-4 with a 2.91 ERA over his last 22 starts, posting 16 quality starts (139ip, 45er).

Lohse (38 points) was also voted Brewers Top Newcomer, receiving seven first-place votes and one second-place vote. He was followed by second baseman Scooter Gennett (26 points – one first-place vote). Outfielder Khris Davis (7 points) and pitcher Tyler Thornburg (1) were also listed on ballots.

Outfielder Norichika Aoki (34 points) received five first-place votes and three second-place votes to edge pitcher Brandon Kintzler (27 points – three first place-votes, four second-place votes) and earn Brewers Unsung Hero honors.  A total of eight players were listed on ballots for this award. Aoki batted .286 with 8 HR, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 155 games. He ranked among the National League leaders in multi-hit games (T7th, 50) and hits (T10th, 171).  He led the team in games, at-bats (597), on-base percentage (.356) and walks (55) while tying Carlos Gomez for the team lead in runs (80). Aoki struck out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances this season, the best ratio in the Major Leagues (16.9).

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy (33 points) earned the Good Guy Award, receiving six first-place votes and one second-place vote.  The other first-place votes went to center fielder Carlos Gomez, who finished second with 18 points, and shortstop Jean Segura. A total of nine players were listed on ballots for this honor, the most of any award this season.

My 2013 Brewers Team Awards Ballot

Every year the writers who cover the Milwaukee Brewers all season long get together, so to speak, and cast ballots for five team awards.

The awards are under the following five categories:

  • Team MVP (not limited to just hitters)
  • Best Pitcher (in any role)
  • Best Newcomer (someone not on the team last year)
  • Unsung Hero (given to someone who didn’t necessarily get a lot of credit for the job that they did)
  • Good Guy (a true “media” award because this is for someone who is good in the community, clubhouse, etc but also was very helpful and gracious with the media)

In each of the past two years I have taken part in a Brewers blogger balloting in which several of us who actively and consistently write about the Brewers voted for the same awards. I’m still not sure what it says about me, but my top choices in each category have matched the winners of the same as voted on by those voting media members.

We’re likely doing the same again this year, but as it was revealed that the official award winners will be announced tomorrow I figured I’d get my ballot posted here in advance. I also like the chance to explain my selections.

(Sidebar: I continue to hope that BBWAA members will do likewise one day on their personal league MVP and Hall of Fame ballots.)

The balloting is such that we choose three men for each award with more points being assigned for higher ballot position.

Team MVP: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura

Jonathan LucroyI’m aware of two things right off the bat with my selection. I’ll disagree with many of the voters who will look at the season Carlos Gomez had and consider him to be the “best” player where that equates to “value.” I also know that my definition of value isn’t strictly based on best statistical performance and that clashes with many. My relatively succinct explanation though is that the edge that pushed Lucroy past Gomez for the top spot in this category was more than just his offensive contributions. Lucroy posted a .280/.340/.455, 114 OPS+ season with career highs in many of the “counting” statistics (H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB BB) due in part to career highs in both games played and plate appearances. But it’s why Lucroy totaled 147 games played and bested his high in plate appearances by 112 that led to my pick for MVP. Lucroy caught four out of every five days, sometimes more, and later in the season got a crash course in playing first base in an attempt to keep his consistently good bat in the lineup. Numbers are nice, and Gomez got the better of Lucroy in many of them, but probably not as many as you think.

In what was an extremely close decision in my mind, I had to give Carlos Gomez a second place finish here. He and Lucroy played in the same number of games and Gomez’s WAR and defensive runs saved and other factors definitely made his case, but Gomez wasn’t a runaway winner by any means and I think Lucroy’s steady presence kept a lot of things on that necessary even keel. Gomez absolutely had his best season in the Majors in 2013 and with a different set of circumstances he maybe wins this award. The numbers speak for themselves though Gomez had a monster first half but then slumped in July and significantly moreso in August. He rebounded in September, and Lucroy’s massive increase in playing time finally caught up to the catcher in September, it seemed, but Lucroy was much more consistent over the long haul the season.

Finally, while pitchers do qualify for this award, I had to recognize the production, surprise, and efforts of Jean Segura with an MVP ballot spot. “Seggy” opened eyes with his powerful first half (really, two-thirds) in which he hit 12 home runs (11 before the All-Star break) and slugged .487 before the break. Despite his youthful exuberence and energy, fatigue eventually set in for Segura who limped to the finish line — literally with a bum hamstring — that saw his batting average dip below .300 and his league stolen base lead disappear in the final series of the season in New York. The Brewers have barred Segura from playing in Winter Ball this off-season so hopefully he can stay fresher longer in 2014. If he does and is able to be more of what we as fans were treated to in April and May, he could very well win this award next year when you consider his defense abilities as well.

Best Pitcher: Kyle Lohse, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler

KyleLohseComing in late in camp, not really facing the level of competition that he needed to ramp up properly for the season, and dealing with injuries throughout the hellacious month of May, Kyle Lohse still takes this crown going away. Peralta had his growing pains. Gallardo struggled throughout the season until late in the year. Estrada missed a ton of time. The fifth starter was all over the place. All that said, Lohse didn’t just win for me by default. He posted a very good season in spite of his awful May (.987 OPS against).

Second place goes to Jim Henderson. He was extremely good in 9th inning Save situations after being thrust into the role after John Axford’s early struggles and again taking over after Francisco Rodriguez was traded to Baltimore. In total Henderson amassed 28 Saves, an ERA+ of 146, and a K/9 ratio of 11.3. It was a promising first full-season performance for the veteran of 10 minor league seasons.

Brandon Kintzler did a remarkable job for the roles he was used in. He was consistently effective and only had a handful of very bad appearances. He also appeared in the second-most games for the team behind only Michael Gonzalez who was sometimes brought in to face just one batter. Kintzler is definitely deserving of this spot and if you find yourself questioning that or not having realized it from the beginning, then that just feeds the fire as to why Kintzler pulled a second-place finish in another award for me.

Best Newcomer: Kyle Lohse, Scooter Gennett, Khris Davis

KyleLohseVsCubsKyle Lohse was a stabilizing force in the rotation most of the season and was the best true newcomer on the roster.  This was an easy selection much like Aramis Ramirez was last year.

Scooter Gennett gets second place because despite his relatively limited playing time he exceeded expectations on multiple levels and put in jeopardy the starting job of an injured veteran. Gennett demonstrated an enormous platoon split, so he’s certainly got plenty of room for improvement at the plate, but he still did enough in 2013 to warrant a significant look in Spring Training next year along with a second place finish for this award in my opinion.

Khris Davis was an obvious choice for this spot for me. He almost took the second place vote but Gennett did more for me. Davis struggled after initially making the 25-man roster out of spring training but certainly held his own once he came back up for the balance of the season after Braun’s suspension. Davis has even pressed the issue of getting his bat into the lineup that Doug Melvin admitted that they’ve had internal discussions about moving Ryan Braun to right field since Davis is a left-field-only defensive player. That could cause a domino effect that could include trading a productive and popular player in the incumbent right fielder, Nori Aoki.

Unsung Hero: Martin Maldonado, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Lohse

MaldonadoPeraltaAs I stated last year when I gave Maldy the first place spot in this category, his receiving, throwing, and handling of the pitching staff were very good despite playing far less in 2013 than in 2012. And while he got a bit more acclaim this year, his impact on the developing Wily Peralta deserves the recognition that this award sheds at least some light on.

Second place goes to Brandon Kintzler in a somewhat subjective vote. Kintzler was often used as a fireman early in the season, a role in which he flourished. That success got him “promoted” to set-up man some time after the job came open in July. Kintzler had a very strong rate of stranded inherited runners for much of the year and bridged a gap that Ron Roenicke didn’t always know how he was going to fill. Kintzler recorded more than three outs on a number of occasions and was truly a bullpen utility man at times. Kintzler certainly isn’t unsung in the coaches’ room though, and he’ll be in the mix for the late innings of games from the jump in 2014.

Kyle Lohse was going to get second place here for his veteran leadership and helping the young pitchers on staff remain calm and steady, but that aspect of what he brought to the team got a decent amount of publicity late in the year. It definitely warrants inclusion on the list for me, but no longer that second place finish.

Good Guy: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Jim Henderson

JonathanLucroyChapmanWalkoffIn the mold of why John Axford won this award in 2012, Jonathan Lucroy was as stand up a guy as there was in the locker room this year. It didn’t matter if it was a great win or a tough loss, if no other hitter wanted to talk to the media, Lucroy gave his time. He would break down pitchers’ stuff and tell you what he saw from his vantage. He would speak candidly about topics that other teammates avoided like Ryan Braun, struggles in the field and at the plate, losing streaks…you name it and he would give the media the quotes they needed. The other factors for this award speak to community involvement (Lucroy was the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee) and how they are in the clubhouse (Lucroy definitely emerged as a team leader this season, when it desperately needed one).

The other player who was available the most and would definitely tell you his opinion on any number of topics was Carlos Gomez. He had a flare in his description and provided many memorable quotes during the year. He was appropriately subdued when the situation called for it and was bouncing around and bringing energy when needed.

Another personal choice is Jim Henderson. Henderson was eager to speak when approached and didn’t just spit up cliches and the same thing over and over. He was thoughtful and well-spoken along with being willing and available.

So those are my choices. Let me hear yours either on social media or, preferably, in the comments.

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