Results tagged ‘ Prince Fielder ’

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

Brewers Wall of Honor Unveiled Today

The Milwaukee Brewers will formally unveil the “Brewers Wall of Honor” at Miller Park today.  The Wall of Honor will commemorate Milwaukee Brewers players that meet a set criteria based on service to the club. A total of 36 former Brewers players will attend today’s ceremony, marking the largest single gathering of Brewers alumni in team history, surpassing the 31 players who came in for the final game at County Stadium in 2000.

A private ceremony for inductees, their families and special guests will take place at 4 p.m. and the wall will be available for viewing to the general public beginning at 6:35 p.m. A pregame ceremony honoring the inductees will take place on the field prior to the game.

The Wall of Honor will be a permanent display outside of Miller Park on a wall on the North side of the ballpark.  Players on the Wall of Honor will each have a plaque with their photo and a brief synopsis of their playing career.  The plaques are designed by Matthews International, designers of the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as well as the plaques on the Milwaukee Braves Wall of Honor at Miller Park.

 Players who meet any of the following criteria while wearing a Brewers uniform will be inducted into the Wall of Honor:

  • 2,000 or more plate appearances
  • 1,000 or more innings pitched
  • 250 appearances as a pitcher
  • Winner of a major award (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, or Fireman of the Year)
  • Manager of a pennant-winning team
  • Individuals recognized with a statue on the Miller Park Plaza
  • Members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who have played for the Brewers

Currently, there are 58 persons who meet the above criteria and will be recognized on the Brewers Wall during the 2014 season.  In addition to the 58 members of the inaugural class, there are seven active players in Major League Baseball that meet the criteria.  Upon retirement, players who meet the criteria will be added to the Wall of Honor.

A total of 38 honorees are scheduled to attend the event six honorees will be represented by family members. The complete list of players who will grace the Brewers Wall of Honor at the unveiling ceremony today is as follows (attendees subject to change, those who will be present for the event are in BOLD, those who will be represented by a family member at the event are in ITALICS and those not able to attend the event are in PLAIN text):

Hank Aaron
Jerry Augustine
Sal Bando
Chris Bosio
Johnny Briggs
Jeromy Burnitz
Mike Caldwell
Bill Castro
Jeff Cirillo
Jim Colborn
Cecil Cooper
Craig Counsell
Chuck Crim
Rob Deer
Cal Eldred
Mike Fetters
Rollie Fingers
Jim Gantner
Moose Haas
Bill Hall
Darryl Hamilton
Teddy Higuera
John Jaha
Geoff Jenkins
Harvey Kuenn
Sixto Lezcano
Pat Listach
Mark Loretta
Davey May
Bob McClure
Paul Molitor
Don Money
Charlie Moore
Jaime Navarro
Dave Nilsson
Ben Oglivie
Dan Plesac
Darrell Porter
Ken Sanders
George Scott
Kevin Seitzer
Allan H. “Bud” Selig
Richie Sexson
Ben Sheets
Ted Simmons
Jim Slaton
B.J. Surhoff
Don Sutton
Gorman Thomas
Bill Travers
Bob Uecker
Jose Valentin
Greg Vaughn
Fernando Viña
Pete Vuckovich
Bill Wegman
Bob Wickman
Robin Yount

Note: John Axford, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks are the seven active players that, as of today, qualify for induction into the Wall of Honor following their retirement.  Active players closing in on the thresholds include Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez.

MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now Entering 2014


As I did last year, and the year before, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.

They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Friday, February 21st. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.

As always, I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. There were six Brewers on the list entering 2012. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9. Last year, the Brewers only had three players featured on the list (at the time it was revealed). Yovani Gallardo repeated his position at 72, Aramis Ramirez jumped all the way up to 32, and Braun settled in at 6. Kyle Lohse made last year’s list as well.

My early prediction? The Brewers could have six (6) this year (Braun, Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy) but I think Garza falls short for sure. (UPDATE: Looks like the Brewers will only have three again. Ramirez and Lohse both fall off the list and Lucroy gets no love either.)

The criteria for the list remains the same:

  • Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
  • Projected 2014 performance
  • Defensive position
  • Accolades
  • Intangibles

Here now are the Top 100-1* Players as listed by MLB Network:

100. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees

99. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds

98. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers

97. Andrelton Simmons – SS – Atlanta Braves

96. Shane Victorino – RF – Boston Red Sox

95. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Detroit Tigers

94. Gerrit Cole – SP – Pittsburgh Pirates

93. Shelby Miller – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

92. Michael Wacha – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

91. Trevor Rosenthal – CL – St. Louis Cardinals

90. Patrick Corbin – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks

89. Clay Buccholz – SP – Boston Red Sox

88. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants

87. Josh Donaldson – 3B – Oakland Athletics

86. Joe Nathan – CL – Detroit Tigers

85. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles

84. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals

83. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox

82. Koji Uehara – CL – Boston Red Sox

81. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies

80. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

79. Pedro Alvarez – 3B – Pittsburgh Pirates

78. Salvador Perez – C – Kansas City Royals

77. Carlos Santana – C/3B – Cleveland Indians

76. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

75. Eric Hosmer – 1B – Kansas City Royals

74. Hunter Pence – RF – San Francisco Giants

73. Michael Cuddyer – RF – Colorado Rockies

72. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves

71. Anibal Sanchez – SP – Detroit Tigers

70. Jason Kipnis – 2B – Cleveland Indians

69. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals

68. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants

67. Greg Holland – CL – Kansas City Royals

66. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals

65. Matt Carpenter – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals

64. Brian McCann – C – New York Yankees

63. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles

62. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals

61. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays


59. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers

58. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals

57. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

56. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals

55. Hisashi Iwakuma – SP – Seattle Mariners

54. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

53. Allen Craig – RF – St. Louis Cardinals

52. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

51. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF – New York Yankees

50. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays

49. Jayson Werth – RF – Washington Nationals

48. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals

47. Carlos Beltran – RF – New York Yankees

46. Prince Fielder – 1B – Texas Rangers

45. Freddie Freeman – 1B – Atlanta Braves


43. Wil Myers – RF – Tampa Bay Rays

42. Shin-Soo Choo – LF – Texas Rangers

41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals

40. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers

39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays

38. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

37. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals

36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds

35. Aroldis Chapman – CL – Cincinnati Reds

34. Joe Mauer – 1B – Minnesota Twins

33. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers

32. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

31. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers

30. Chris Davis – 1B – Baltimore Orioles

29. Manny Machado – 3B – Baltimore Orioles

28. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox

27. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox

26. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves

25. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets


23. Yasiel Puig – RF – Los Angeles Dodgers

22. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals

21. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles

20. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins

19. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox

18. Jose Fernandez – SP – Miami Marlins

17. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants

16. Hanley Ramirez – SS – Los Angeles Dodgers

15. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays

14. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals

13. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies

12. Max Scherzer – SP – Detroit Tigers

11. Carlos Gonzalez – CF – Colorado Rockies

10. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

9. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – Arizona Diamondbacks

8. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds

7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners

6. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers

5. Robinson Cano – 2B – Seattle Mariners

4. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates

3. Miguel Cabrera – 1B – Detroit Tigers

2. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Mike Trout – CF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

So that’s the list! Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think. Did your favorite player make the list? Was he too high? Too low?

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now” Rankings Entering 2014

Each year I compile MLB Network’s “Top 100 Players Right Now” which airs annually before the regular season begins.

This year, I decided to supplement those rankings by giving you a place to find all of the Top 10 Right Now positional rankings as well.

I’ll add to this post as the episodes air on MLB Network over the next few weeks.

On Friday, January 10, 2014 the rankings for both Centerfielders and Shortstops were revealed. (See them below.) On Friday, January 17th both Starting Pitchers and Right Fielders were unveiled. Friday, January 24th brought us Left Fielders and First Basemen. Relief Pitchers and Second Basemen were revealed on Friday, January 31st.

Catchers and Third Basemen will be revealed on Friday, February 7th, so look for a couple more Brewers to make it.


MLB Network’s “Top 10 Centerfielders Right Now”

  1. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  2. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury – New York Yankees
  5. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers
  7. Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers
  8. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
  9. Dexter Fowler – Houston Astros
  10. Coco Crisp – Oakland Athletics

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Centerfielders was Darryl Hamilton. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Trout, McCutchen, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jones, Kemp, Desmond Jennings (TB), Leonys Martin (TEX)

James: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Gonzalez, Jackson, Michael Bourn (CLE), Jennings, Denard Span (WAS)

Hamilton: Trout, McCutchen, Jones, Ellsbury, Gomez, Kemp, Jackson, Crisp, Gonzalez, Bourn


MLB Network’s “Top 10 Shortstops Right Now”

  1. Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
  2. Jose Reyes – Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Jhonny Peralta – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers
  6. Ian Desmond – Washington Nationals
  7. Elvis Andrus – Texas Rangers
  8. Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves
  9. J.J. Hardy – Baltimore Orioles
  10. Alcides Escobar – Kansas City Royal

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Shortstops was Bill Ripken. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Reyes, Desmond, Andrus, Peralta, Derek Jeter (NYY), Simmons, Segura, Everth Cabrera (SD)

James: Tulowitzki, Hardy, Reyes, Jed Lowrie (OAK), Simmons, Andrus, Segura, Ramirez, Erick Aybar (LAA), Escobar

Ripken: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Hardy, Simmons, Desmond, Segura, Stephen Drew (FA), Lowrie, Andrus, Reyes


MLB Network’s “Top 10 Staring Pitchers Right Now”

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
  3. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
  4. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
  5. Jose Fernandez – Miami Marlins
  6. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
  7. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners
  8. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
  9. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
  10. Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Starting Pitchers was John Smoltz. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Kershaw, Verlander, Lee, Hernandez, Wainwright, Yu Darvish (TEX), Scherzer, Fernandez, Madison Bumgarner (SF), Sale

James: Kershaw, Scherzer, Lee, Wainwright, Verlander, Zack Greinke (LAD), Sale, Jered Weaver (LAA), Hernandez, Darvish

Smoltz: Kershaw, Fernandez, Hernandez, Scherzer, Darvish, Verlander, Jon Lester (BOS), Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Wainwright, Price


MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now”

  1. Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
  5. Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals
  6. Carlos Beltran – New York Yankees
  7. Jayson Werth – Washington Nationals
  8. Shane Victorino – Boston Red Sox
  9. Hunter Pence – San Francisco Giants
  10. Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Right Fielders was Mark DeRosa. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Braun, Stanton, Puig, Heyward, Werth, Bautista, Craig, Jay Bruce (CIN), Wil Myers (TB), Pence

James: Braun, Bruce, Stanton, Heyward, Pence, Bautista, Victorino, Beltran, Puig, Torii Hunter (DET)

DeRosa: Beltran, Stanton, Bautista, Werth, Craig, Pence, Bruce, Hunter, Puig, Michael Cuddyer (COL)

You read that correctly. Mark DeRosa doesn’t Ryan Braun in his Top 10 Right Fielders Right Now despite Brian Kenny and Bill James both ranking Braun #1 and the Shredder ranking him second. DeRosa says Braun “should be 1″ but since he has to earn back the respect of fans, his teammates, etc. DeRosa “hopes” he comes back and performs and is #1 next year, but he couldn’t discount other guys.

As for the Shredder, Brian Kenny said he was shocked not only that Braun wasn’t first but that Puig was. I’m guessing Braun was dinged by the Shredder for how many games he missed last year. That’ll happen in an algorithm.

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now”

  1. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
  3. Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
  4. Justin Upton – Atlanta Braves
  5. Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers
  6. Starling Marte – Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Daniel Nava – Boston Red Sox
  8. Carlos Quentin – San Diego Padres
  9. Josh Hamilton – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  10. Brett Gardner – New York Yankees

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Left Fielders was Eric Byrnes. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Harper, Choo, Holliday, Marte, Upton, Gordon, Gardner, Yoenis Cespedes (OAK), Domonic Brown (PHI), Khris Davis (MIL)

James: Choo, Holliday, Gordon, Gardner, Nava, Harper, Upton, Brown, Cespedes, Hamilton

Byrnes: Holliday, Harper, Upton, Choo, Alfonso Soriano (NYY), Gordon, Marte, Hamilton, Nava, Brown

MLB Network’s “Top 10 First Basemen Right Now”

  1. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
  2. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
  6. Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox
  7. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
  8. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
  9. Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers
  10. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the First Basemen was Sean Casey. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Mauer, Fielder, Davis, Encarnacion, Brandon Belt (SF), Ad. Gonzalez

James: Cabrera, Goldschmidt, Votto, Davis, Mauer, Freeman, Encarnacion, Ad. Gonzalez, Napoli, Eric Hosmer (KC)

Casey: Cabrera, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Davis, Fielder, Ad. Gonzalez, Mauer, Albert Pujols (LAA), Encarnacion

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now”

  1. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
  2. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
  3. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
  5. Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers
  6. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
  7. David Robertson – New York Yankees
  8. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
  9. Luis Avilan – Atlanta Braves
  10. Joaquin Benoit – San Diego Padres

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode also provides three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Relief Pitchers was Dan Plesac. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Kimbrel, Holland, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Trevor Rosenthal (STL), Perkins, Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon (PHI), Benoit

James: Kimbrel, Jansen, Chapman, Uehara, Holland, Nathan, Papelbon, Perkins, Rosenthal, Mark Melancon (PIT)

Plesac: Kimbrel, Holland, Chapman, Uehara, Jansen, Nathan, Jim Johnson (OAK), Perkins, Jason Grilli (PIT), Rex Brothers (COL)

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now”

  1. Robinson Cano -Seattle Mariners
  2. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
  3. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
  5. Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
  6. Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers
  7. Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  8. Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks
  10. Marco Scutaro – San Francisco Giants

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Second Basemen was Harold Reynolds. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Cano, Pedroia, Kipnis, Utley, Hill, Zobrist, Kendrick, Kinsler, Walker, Omar Infante (KC)

James: Cano, Pedroia, Zobrist, Kipnis, Utley, Brandon Phillips (CIN), Kinsler, Infante, Jose Altuve (HOU), Kendrick

Reynolds: Cano, Pedroia, Phillips, Kipnis, Kendrick, Utley, Kinsler, Scutaro, Infante, Walker


MLB Network’s “Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now”

  1. Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
  2. David Wright – New York Mets
  3. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Josh Donaldson – Oakland Athletics
  6. Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants
  7. Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers
  8. Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
  9. Chase Headley – San Diego Padres
  10. Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Third Basemen was Mike Lowell. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Wright, Longoria, Beltre, Carpenter, Donaldson, Machado, Zimmerman, Headley, Kyle Seager (SEA), Martin Prado (ARI)

James: Longoria, Beltre, Wright, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Headley, Machado, Prado, Donaldson, Seager

Lowell: Beltre, Longoria, Wright, Machado, Donaldson, Ramirez, Headley, Carpenter, Zimmerman, Pedro Alvarez (PIT)

Neither Brian Kenny or Bill James included Aramis Ramirez in their personal Top 10.

Best line of the show? Kenny asked James why he put Longoria over Beltre and Wright. James’ response: “Probably fear.” He then admitted that he might be biased by working for the Red Sox.

MLB Network’s “Top 10 Catchers Right Now”

  1. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
  3. Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
  4. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
  5. Jason Castro – Houston Astros
  6. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers
  7. Carlos Ruiz – Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks
  9. Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies
  10. Wilson Ramos – Washington Nationals

The rankings above are from MLB Network’s “Shredder” which takes into account a multitude of statistical factors with no human bias. Each episode will apparently also provide three additional lists: One from Brian Kenny, one from Bill James, and one from an MLB Network analyst, who for the Catchers was Dave Valle. Here are their individual Top 10’s.

Kenny: Posey, Molina, Santana, Brian McCann (NYY), Perez, Lucroy, Castro, Ruiz, Russell Martin (PIT), Montero

James: Posey, Molina, Perez, A.J. Pierzynski (BOS), Matt Wieters (BAL), Santana, Rosario, McCann, Lucroy, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA)

Valle: Molina, Perez, Posey, Wieters, Ramos, Martin, McCann, A.J. Ellis (LAD), Lucroy, Castro

So there you have it. All 10 positions worth ranking in MLB by the Shredder and the MLB Network personalities.

There are five Brewers among the 100 names listed by The Shredder. They are: Carlos Gomez (CF, 6th), Jean Segura (SS, 5th), Ryan Braun (RF, 2nd), Aramis Ramirez (3B, 7th), and Jonathan Lucroy (C, 6th)


MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now Heading Into 2013


As I did last year, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.

They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Tuesday, February 26th. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.

As before I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. Last year there were six Brewers on the list. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9.

Based on what has been revealed, it would appear a safe bet that Rickie Weeks has fallen off of the list. And how about John Axford? Could he really be in the Top 40 or did he fall off too? I’m guessing he fell off despite his fantastic 2011 season.

Looks like the Brewers will only have three this year.

The criteria for the list remains the same:

  • Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
  • Projected 2013 performance
  • Defensive position
  • Accolades
  • Intangibles

Here now are the Top 100 Players as listed by MLB Network.

100. Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies

99. Sergio Romo – CL – San Francisco Giants

98. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers

97. Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers

96. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies

95. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

94. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – Boston Red Sox

93. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers

92. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals

91. Michael Bourn – CF – Cleveland Indians

90. Aroldis Chapman – P – Cincinnati Reds

89. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

88. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox

87. Mike Moustakas – 3B – Kansas City Royals

86. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays

85. Michael Morse – 1B/LF – Seattle Mariners

84. Allen Craig – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals

83. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers

82. Carlos Beltran – RF – St. Louis Cardinals

81. Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia Phillies

80. Brian McCann – C – Atlanta Braves

79. Miguel Montero – C- Arizona Diamondbacks

78. Curtis Granderson – CF – New York Yankees

77. Jim Johnson – CL – Baltimore Orioles

76. Jason Motte – CL – St. Louis Cardinals

75. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals

74. Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego Padres

73. Adam LaRoche – 1B – Washington Nationals

72. Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers

71. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants

70. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals

69. B.J. Upton – CF – Atlanta Braves

68. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals

67. David Freese – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals

66. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles

65. Kyle Lohse – SP – (FREE AGENT)

64. Wade Miley – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks

63. Johnny Cueto – SP – Cincinnati Reds

62. Jonathan Papelbon – CL – Philadelphia Phillies

61. Mariano Rivera – CL – New York Yankees

60. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox

59. Jason Heyward – RF – Atlanta Braves

58. Austin Jackson – CF – Detroit Tigers

57. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

56. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox

55. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals

54. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals

53. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees

52. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs

51. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies

50. R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays

49. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals

48. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles

47. A.J. Pierzynski – C- Texas Rangers

46. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

45. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants

44. Pablo Sandoval – 3B – San Francisco Giants

43. Josh Willingham – LF – Minnesota Twins

42. Yoenis Cespedes – LF – Oakland Athletics

41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals

40. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers

39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays

38. Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins

37. Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds

35. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves

34. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox

33. Paul Konerko – 1B – Chicago White Sox

32. Aramis Ramirez – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers

31. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds

30. Carlos Gonzalez – LF – Colorado Rockies

29. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals

28. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays

27. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves

26. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals

25. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays

24. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals

23. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles

22. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets

21. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants

20. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

19. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

18. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees

17. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates

16. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays

15. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins

14. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

13. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers

12. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

11. Prince Fielder – 1B – Detroit Tigers

10. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

9. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds

8. Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Yankees

7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners

6. Ryan Braun – LF – Milwaukee Brewers

5. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B – Detroit Tigers

2. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers

1. Mike Trout – LF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Totals by team:

  • Philadelphia Phillies – 7
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 7
  • Washington Nationals – 7
  • Detroit Tigers – 6
  • Atlanta Braves – 5
  • Cincinnati Reds – 5
  • New York Yankees – 5
  • San Francisco Giants – 5
  • Texas Rangers – 5
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 5
  • Baltimore Orioles – 4
  • Boston Red Sox – 4
  • Kansas City Royals – 4
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 4
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 4
  • Milwaukee Brewers – 3
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
  • Chicago White Sox – 2
  • Colorado Rockies – 2
  • Minnesota Twins – 2
  • Seattle Mariners – 2
  • Tampa Bay Rays – 2
  • Cleveland Indians – 1
  • New York Mets – 1
  • Chicago Cubs – 1
  • Oakland Athletics – 1
  • Miami Marlins – 1
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
  • San Diego Padres – 1
  • Kyle Lohse – 1


Ryan Braun Starts Fourth All-Star Game, Records First Hit

Manager Ron Roenicke and left fielder Ryan Braun (8) represented the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2012 MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been elected to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in each of his five full seasons in the big leagues.

The first three games saw Braun reach base exactly zero times in seven at-bats. He struck out three times to boot. (Braun’s fourth election resulted in him not playing in the game due to injury.)

Earlier tonight though, Braun started his fourth Midsummer Classic for the National League, playing left field, and hitting third in manager Tony La Russa’s lineup. Following a one-out single by San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Braun dug into the right-handed batter’s box.

On a 2-1 count, Braun took a 98-MPH fastball from American League starting pitcher Justin Verlander over the head of starting right fielder Jose Bautista for an RBI double, giving the National League a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Braun would later score from third base on Pablo Sandoval’s bases-clearing triple, but the run he drove in held up the entire way as the National League shut out the American League be a final score of 8-0!

In the fourth inning, with two outs, Ryan Braun then tripled into the right field corner. (He was stranded there when Joey Votto grounded out to end the inning.) That second hit was the first time a Milwaukee Brewer has ever recorded two hits in the same All-Star Game. A little piece of history is always a good thing.

Braun contributed on defense as well during his four innings in the field, tracking down two deep fly balls on the warning track and catching another in much shallower left. But the crowning moment was a leaping catch while running at full sprint to take away a double from Home Run Derby champion Prince Fielder to end both the fourth inning and Braun’s night of work.

Offensively, Braun finished 2-for-3 with a double, triple, RBI and run scored. Without a tremendous diving catch by Jose Bautista, Braun could have been 3-for-3 and again, his RBI was the game-winning RBI! Ryan Braun is the also only the fifth player to hit a double and triple in the same All-Star Game. He joins Earl Averill, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, and George Brett.

All things considered, it was an extremely positive All-Star break for the reigning National League Most Valuable Player.

Congratulations to Ryan!

Congratulations are also in order to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke who was named to Tony La Russa’s staff after the Brewers made it to the National League Championship Series in 2011.

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #28

Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.


Sandy Valdespino (’70)
Roberto Pena (’70-71)
Wilbur Howard (’73)
Von Joshua (’76-77)
Vic Harris (’80)
Jamie Easterly (’81-’83)
Rick Manning (’83-’87)
Odell Jones (’88)
Jeff Peterek (’89)
Tom Filer (’90)
Franklin Stubbs (’91)
Doug Henry (’91-’94)
Jack Voigt (’97)
Mike Myers (’98-’99)
Valerio De Los Santos (’00-’03)
Prince Fielder (’05-’11)
Gerardo Parra (’14-Current)

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #1 Corey Hart

Ladies and gentlemen it has happened.

The Brewers flight from Arizona got back to town late yesterday evening. That’s right, to be a bit corny: “The boys are back in town!”

There’s no word whether the team boarded by jersey number, but if they had then today’s final profile subject would have been the first one on.

He is the starting right fielder and will bat fifth tomorrow at Miller Park, despite not exactly piling up the at-bats this spring.

He wears the number one on his back. He is:

Corey Hart.

Standing 6’6″ tall and weighing an official 235 pounds, Jon Corey Hart came to camp in 2011 poised to continue making good on an off-season contract extension negotiated with the club before the 2010 season.

Hart had posted career-worst numbers in 2010 in several categories but negotiated his way in an arbitration hearing to a $4.8 million contract. I blasted Hart in this space for that situation, and was happy to be proven wrong to a degree in 2010.

So when he got hurt in Spring Training however and started the year on the disabled list, people had cause for concern both about missing his production and whether his long-term outlook would be affected.

He only played 130 total games after beginning the season on the DL with an oblique strain and, he would later admit, it shouldn’t have been that many. Hart told members of the media that he rushed back because he felt he could help the team even at less than 100%. It didn’t work well, and Hart realized that he should have stayed in minor league rehab games longer than he did.

When he was on the field in 2011, Hart continued two recent trends: increased power and greatly decreased speed.

His final statistics totaled:

130 G, 492 AB, 80 R, 140 H, 25 doubles, 4 triples, 26 HR, 63 RBI, 51 BB, 114 K, 7 SB, 6 caught stealing, .285/.356/.510

Hart had played in 15 more games in 2010 than 2011, and had gotten 64 more at-bats which resulted in better counting stats, but the rates of certain stats were up and with better health, Hart probably would have at least equaled his 2010 in many categories.

Two numbers that were exactly the same were Hart’s steals and caught stealings. It continued to be disconcerting because despite his 6’6″ frame, Hart was always a benefit on the bases. Hart stole 23 bases in both 2007 and 2008 before falling to 11 in 2009 and just seven the next two years.

Hopefully his realization about carrying the extra weight and subsequently dropping that weight will help Hart regain some of that lost quickness.

But has it made a difference? In a Spring Training where Jonathan Lucroy was running wild on the basepaths, how many stolen bases did Hart attempt? And what was his success rate?

We don’t know if Hart’s speed was positively affected in game situations because he only played in two official Cactus League games. And therein lies the x-factor for the Brewers in 2012: health.

In any season where position players stay healthy and are able to answer the bell 150 times or more, there is a lot of luck involved. For the second straight spring, the only kind of luck Hart had was bad luck.

While hurrying to Ryan Braun’s press conference at Maryvale Baseball Park this spring, Hart was wearing his spikes and slipped on some cement, damaging his meniscus, requiring surgery. While he was rehabilitating his knee, Hart was injured again in the weight room when a metal bar hit him in head, requiring eight stitches.

Having a good sense of humor about it all, Hart hit the nail on the head when he stated that he needs to just report to camp with about a week to go in Spring Training so as to limit his exposure to the perils of Arizona.

Four weeks to the day following knee surgery, Hart was back on the field playing. It’s quite a remarkable recovery in some respects, but Hart worked hard at his rehab to get himself ready.

In the two official games he played this spring, Hart was 3-for-6 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. He also ran well in the outfield. Hopefully he can hit the ground running tomorrow afternoon.

Hart did have plenty of highlights in 2011 though.

He tied franchise records with a three-home run, seven-RBI  game against the Washington Nationals. Hart produced five lead-off home runs after moving up the lineup following Rickie Weeks’ ankle injury in July. He put together an 18-game hitting streak which started on August 18th, during a month for which Hart would later earn team Player of the Month honors.

Hart also recorded a pair of home runs in the postseason while batting .244 (10-for-41).

As for 2012, if Hart’s knee remains healthy, I’d like to project a solid year at the plate. And if his conditioning changes are a benefit he’ll increase his value to the team both on the basepaths and in right field.

With the departures of Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee in the off-season, all the talk has been of how the combination of Aramis Ramirez and Mat Gamel will need to be able to make up the lost production. But if Hart adds 20 games to his register this season, hitting in the fifth spot in the order and coming through in RBI situations, that will combine into those offensive totals and significantly affect the outcome of several games.

But it all finally starts tomorrow at Miller Park.

We’ll see you there if you’re going, and we’ll see 25 of the men who were previewed and reviewed throughout the weeks leading up to tomorrow.

I’ve had a fun ride with this series and hope that you learned something along the way.

Thanks so much for reading and stay tuned all season as the articles and analysis will be here.

Batted .285 with 26 HR and 63 RBI in 130 games…..made 123 starts, all in right field…Established a career high in walks (51)…Committed only 2 errors the entire season for the second consecutive season…Missed the first 22 games of the season after suffering a left oblique strain in spring training….. was on the 15-day disabled list from 3/30-4/25, retroactive to 3/22…Appeared in 5 games at Triple-A Nashville from 4/19-4/25 during a rehab assignment…Batted .324 (69-for-214, 13hr, 32rbi) over his last 53 games of the season, raising his overall batting average from .255 to .285…Batted leadoff in his last 62 starts (77-for-256, .301, 15hr, 36rbi)…..had previously not started a game in that spot in the order since 7/22/09 at Pittsburgh…Hit 5 leadoff home runs: 7/19 at Arizona, 7/30 vs. Houston, 8/3 vs. St. Louis, 8/22 at Pittsburgh and 8/31 vs. St. Louis… has 7 career leadoff homers…Produced 3 HR and 7 RBI on 5/23 vs. Washington, tying franchise records…..the 3 HR marked his first homers of the season (22nd game)…..became the 10th player (15 times) in franchise history to hit 3 HR in a game…..joined Ted Kubiak (1970), Jose Hernandez (2001), Richie Sexson (2002) and Damian Miller (2007) as the only Brewers with 7 RBI in a game…Tied his career high (3x) with 4 hits on 7/30 vs. Houston, including a leadoff homer in the 6-2 victory…Was named Brewers Player of the Month for August (.321, 8hr, 17rbi)…Recorded a season-high 18-game hitting streak from 8/18-9/6, batting .359 (28-for-78) with 5 HR and 9 RBI…Batted .244 (10-for-41) with 2 HR and 5 RBI in 10 games during the postseason.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #8 Ryan Braun

Not much desire or time for a poetic open today.

We’re eight days away and that jersey wearer had quite an eventful 2011.

He is the Brewers starting left fielder:

Ryan Braun.

When Spring Training opened in 2011, much was said about the off-season training program of the 6’1″, 200 pound right-handed hitter from Mission Hills, California by way of the University of Miami.

The positive results of that training showed in his early Cactus League numbers. He was 5 for his first 15 with two home runs. The negative results then reared their ugly heads…or should I say their ugly intercostals?

Ryan Joseph Braun was pulled from a game on Saturday, March 12 with a strained rib cage muscle. It was the same injury that had cost Braun time in 2010 and Brewer Nation was beginning to worry that it would be a chronic issue for the rest of his career.

Braun would return to the lineup two days later. There’s nothing quite like overreacting.

He would end up playing in 150 games in 2011, posting a stat line of:

563 AB, 109 R, 187 H, 38 2B, 6 3B, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 58 RBI, 93 K, 33 SB, .332/.397/.597, .994 OPS

Braun led the National League in slugging percentage and OPS. He was second in runs scored and batting average. Fourth in doubles and RBI. He ranked fifth in total hits and on-base percentage. And he finished sixth in home runs, seventh in stolen bases, and twelfth in triples.

Those numbers did not go unnoticed.

The accolades for Braun during and as a result of his 2011 season were numerous and significant.

  • National League Player of the Week in late April (4/25/11)
  • National League Player of the Month for April
  • Elected starting outfielder for the National League All-Star team
    • Fourth consecutive election
    • Was the top vote-getter in the entire league
  • National League Player of the Month for September
  • 2011 NL Silver Slugger
    • Fourth consecutive win
  • 2011 National League Most Valuable Player

It was quite the season for quite the ballplayer.

As any Brewers fan knows, Braun has been a well-respected and accolade-laden player throughout his career. He was a Rising Star as a minor leaguer, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, a two-time NL Player of the Month prior to 2011, and as mentioned above prior to 2011 Braun had won three Silver Sluggers as well as three All-Star Game starts.

He had become wildly popular around the country both for his good looks and due to the popularity of fantasy baseball. As a contributor across numerous categories, fans in all parts of the nation knew name because he helped them “win”.

Vastly more importantly is that he helped the Brewers win, a lot. 96 times in the regular season, in fact, with another five victories in the postseason.

It was a franchise record. Braun was justly rewarded with the NL MVP, the franchise’s first MVP Award since Robin Yount won his second in 1989.

The day the announcement came down about who had won the MVP was a great day for Brewers fans. There was much rejoicing, sports talk shows in the city of Milwaukee were blowing up with wall-to-wall praises for Braun, the Brewers, and a feeling of validation for the 2011 season despite a finish two wins shy of the World Series.

But what should have been a storybook off-season for Braun turned into a horror novel the likes of which Stephen King would pen.

Okay, perhaps that’s being a bit melodramatic but when irresponsible journalism led to a bombshell rocking the baseball world, it certainly felt like the world was caving in around Brewers fans.

It was reported that Braun had failed a urine test taken during the NLDS and that performance-enhancing drugs were the cause. ESPN decided to make the uneducated leap and several of its on-air personalities started saying that Braun had tested positive for steroids. No PED was not ever detected in Braun’s urine.

I’m not going to get into everything again in this space because enough has been said about the situation, but for the purposes of a review/preview of Braun, it needs to be made mention of.

That’s because Braun was suspended for 50 games because of the urine test. Under the suspension, Braun would miss every game from Opening Day (reminder: 8 days away!!) until May 31st.

Braun appealed the suspension claiming his innocence and telling reporters that the reports were “b.s.”

As you know, Braun won the appeal by basing what we know of his argument on something that if proven to be questionable would mean that the suspension could not be upheld. The independent arbitrator ruled in Braun’s favor making the three-member panel vote for Braun by a 2-1 margin.

(If you want to read my other thoughts on the Braun situation, I wrote them back in February. You can get to them by clicking here.)

That means that Braun will be in the lineup on April 6 when the Milwaukee Brewers take on the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park for Opening Day 2o12. The reigning NL MVP will lead the defending National League Central Division Champions into battle.

That’s great news for the Brewers and not so great news for the redbirds.

Spring Training this year hasn’t been great for Braun. He started the Cactus League by playing only every other day while, apparently, nursing a bit of a sore groin that finally flared up and cost him a few days at one point.

Braun is just 4-for-28 in 2012, but he’s started to come on lately with hits in three of his last four games (3-for-11, 2 walks). He is confident that when the bell rings in eight days, he’ll answer it the same way that he always has.

After all, Spring Training isn’t about results anyway for someone with Braun’s pedigree. It’s about the process to get oneself ready to play. So long as Braun remains confident, the results will be there in the end.

That’s not to say that there won’t be some differences to Braun’s numbers this season. Many people will claim that lineup protection is overrated at best and non-existent at worse, but Aramis Ramirez is not Prince Fielder. That means that in certain situations, you can expect that total of two intentional walks to skyrocket by comparison.

If the lineup produces around Braun, and that production should be less concentrated which should help Milwaukee more than hurt, the left fielder will see plenty of success.

With a full season on tap in Brew City Braun will see an increase in on-base percentage, and if he can stay patient and attack the mistakes he sees (something he’s always done phenomenally well throughout his career), the bottom line for Braun is that he’ll put up the numbers he can control.

The numbers that are reliant on his teammates? We’ll see how that all shakes out when the time comes.

But eight days from now, when we’ve filled Miller Park and are screaming our collective heads off for our guy during team introductions, just enjoy the moment. And if Braun goes 0-for-4 in the game, don’t worry. After all, there’s 161+ to go.

Something tells me Braun will be just fine when those games are in the books.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #13 Zack Greinke

We’re a lucky 13 days away from Opening Day 2012.

(First of all, Happy 30th Birthday, Corey Hart!)

Moreover, it’s the second-to-last weekend without regular season baseball for the next six months.

Please excuse me for a moment while I reread that sentence, smile and exhale contently.

Where were we?

Oh right…

Toward the end of the 2010 season, the writing seemed to be on the walls at Miller Park.

The Brewers were limping to a 77-85 record and a third-place finish in the National League Central.

Littering the roster were players the likes of Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Jody Gerut, Chris Smith, Adam Stern, Joe Inglett (knuckleball notwithstanding), and other players that have at best moved on to a different team and at worst are now out of the game altogether. Wasting space on the bench along side them was manager Ken Macha too.

And arguably the team’s best player received a standing ovation in his final home game because fans realized that what made the most sense for the future was probably sending Prince Fielder to a different team in order to get some return for him before he would inevitably leave town after the 2011 season anyway.

In short, the system was no longer working in Cream City, though you could argue that perhaps it never had because no World Series title had come home. All offense and minimal pitching wasn’t getting the job done. It was time for a change.

That change came by way of two off-season trades to acquire starting pitching. One was already discussed five days ago when we previewed #18 Shaun Marcum.

The other shall be discussed now because he wears #13. His name is:

Zack Greinke.

It was nearing Christmas in 2010 and Brewers fans were happily examining Shaun Marcum’s career statistics and wondering how he would perform following Yovani Gallardo as the number two in the starting rotation.

Then, all of a sudden, an acquaintance of mine started tweeting one night about another trade that he had caught wind of.  If it went down, it would change the game in the NL Central. If it came off, it would turn the division on its ear.

Needless to say, it went down.

Doug Melvin sent four young, talented ballplayers to the Kansas City Royals as a return for one “shortstop” and one Donald Zackary Greinke.

A former Cy Young Award winner coming to Milwaukee? That reminded a lot of people of the 2008 acquisition of CC Sabathia. That led to a playoff appearance. That was a good thing.

We all know now that 2011 ended with a trip to the NLCS, but it didn’t quite start out so happily.

Pitchers and Catchers reported to Spring Training in 2011 to expectations and hope among fans. Fielder was not traded, Greinke and Marcum were on the mound, John Axford was ready to slam the door on nearly any game with a late and close lead…in short, optimism abounded.

Then news began trickling out about a pickup basketball game, a hard fall, and a cracked rib.

The newly-acquired ace was shelved. He wouldn’t be with the team on Opening Day. He wouldn’t make a start in the entire month of April or maybe more. How would the team survive?

Greinke’s first start was on May 4 in Atlanta against the Braves. Greinke lost that start, only going four innings and allowing five runs (four earned).

Well, then worry turned to panic for some.

The team was 13-17 after Greinke’s first start. The cries were roughly the same. They gave up too much for this injury-prone bum. This guy can’t pitch even though he is “healthy”. They’re paying him how much to pitch this poorly?

Greinke won four of his next five starts, but allowed 16 earned runs over 30 innings.

The sky was officially falling.

“Maybe we can trade him.” “What a bum!” “Cy Yuck!”

It’s like it was “Jump to Conclusions Mat” night at Miller Park.

The only thing keeping the critics somewhat at bay was that by the end of May the team was 30-25 overall. In fact, from the first game Greinke pitched through the end of the season, the team played 33 games over .500 baseball.

Something about getting that piece back in the rotation calmed this team down. It helped Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson all perform better by way of bumping them to lesser opponents. It helped challenge Gallardo to be at his best each and every time out.

Greinke made everybody around him better. That’s an incredibly difficult thing to do in a sport like baseball. You are so self-reliant at times in this particular team game. Every at-bat is a one-on-one battle until wood hits leather, and even then there’s usually something that prevents a defender from being involved. Foul balls into the stands, home runs, come-backers…there’s a lot of aspects of the individual battle inside of the team sport.

But somehow Greinke had that effect.

He had an 11-0 record at Miller Park in 15 starts. His peripherals were solid despite some of the traditional stats not looking as good.

There is a statistic called xFIP which stands for expected fielding-independent pitching. To put it crudely, it measures what a pitcher’s ERA would be if the defense wasn’t a factor. Greinke’s was a 2.56 which was the best mark in baseball. (Gallardo, for the record, was tenth in all of baseball with a 3.19 xFIP.)

Greinke finished the season with a 16-6 record, 3.83 ERA, having allowed 161 hits and 45 walks (1.20 WHIP), 82 runs (73 earned), an opponents’ batting average of .245 and recording 201 strikeouts…in just 171.2 innings pitched over 28 starts. Yeah, 201 strikeouts after missing an entire month of starts.

Greinke wasn’t very good on the road, and he struggled in the playoffs, but those things (and perhaps the looming visage of free agency on the horizon) have made Greinke hungry though. He has spent Spring Training 2012 healthy which has allowed him to find a delivery which increases his control without sacrificing velocity. He’s also working on a new pitch.

A guy who struck out 201 and only walked 45 feels that he’ll have better command in 2012. He’s also put a cut fastball in his repertoire for the new season. In his most recent start of this writing, Greinke threw 76 pitches, over twenty of which were cutters. The results speak for themselves: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R,  0 BB, 9 K.

Do you think he’s ready for the season to begin? So does Ron Roenicke.

There has been talk this spring about a possible contract extension between Greinke and the Brewers. I, myself, reported on initial contact to that end happening last December during the Winter Meetings.

If the 2012 Cactus League is any indication, it would certainly behoove the Brewers to lock Greinke up sooner rather than later. If he has a season that lives up to his 2011 peripherals while having the traditional stats more in line with his ace persona…it could cost the Brewers a pretty penny to retain his services.

Working in Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio’s favor is that Greinke has praised them both in the media throughout the tenure of his employment in Milwaukee. He is allowed to scratch his itches, like attending a college baseball game to scout a player, for example. Milwaukee understands his social anxiety and allows Greinke to excuse himself from long meetings to take a quick mental break before getting back to work.

The environment has been wonderful for Greinke, and we fans are a big part of that. He loves playing in front of us and the support we show him is paramount in the Brewers’ attempts to retain his services.

In short, one more time, this relationship has been wonderful to this point and could very likely be wonderful for a few more years at least if a deal can be struck.

Greinke is working without an agent, though news came out today that he’s been consulting with Ryan Braun on some pitching comps as far as contracts that have been signed. No telling if anything will come of it, but at least for now it appears to be all positive.

For the Milwaukee Brewers to continue competing in the window which they’ve opened for themselves, quality pitching is a must. And when that quality is of such a high level and is already in town…

Well, it just goes to show you how important these negotiations are…assuming the sides are even actively talking at this point.

Short-term, however, and as a matter of opinion, 2012 is looking like an amazing opportunity for the Milwaukee Brewers to not only repeat at NL Central Champions, but also to possibly advance at least one more step into the World Series.

Once you’re in, anything can happen.

And should Greinke decides to stay in a Brewers uniform beyond 2012, anything might be possible over the length of that deal.

In short, as fans we should be so lucky.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25,882 other followers