The Milwaukee Brewers. Man, that is a ridiculous name! Why the hell would you name your team the Brewers? What the heck do they even brew, alcohol?… or because it’s Milwaukee, do they brew cheese? That has to be one of the stupidest names in professional sports. Comment on this below, what you think is the stupidest team name in pro sports? Well that was a lovely tangent. Anyway we all know the Brew crew had a strong 2011, they made it to the NLCS for the second time in their history, and Ryan Braun (I know his cousin!) won the NL MVP despite being caught up in some shenanigans which I will talk about later in this article. Anyway the Brewers stacked up as so in 2011.
Record: 96-66 (Franchise record)
Finish: 1st in NL Central
Playoffs: Lost in NLCS
Top Pitcher: John Axford 1.95 ERA, 46 SV, 2 BLSV (and because he has a friggin’ amazing mustache)
Top Hitter: Ryan Braun .332 AVG, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 38 2B
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Aramis Ramirez 3B, Corey Patterson OF, Norichika Aoki OF, Cesar Izturis SS,
Important Offseason Losses: Prince Fielder (DET), Craig Counsel (Retired), Yuniesky Betancourt (KC), Casey McGehee (PIT), Jerry Hairston Jr. (LAD)
The last thing Brewer’s fans saw during their team’s valiant 2011 campaign, was their division rival St. Louis Cardinals celebrating their World Series birth in Miller Park. It was the closest the Brewers had been from winning a baseball championship since Robin Yount and Rollie Fingers were on the team back in the 1982 season, where coincidentally they also lost to the St. Louis Cardinals (the Brewers were in the AL at the time). Possessing arguably the two best hitters in the NL last season in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers had a lightning 2011 campaign, but considering those days are over, it’s time for them to look forward to the 2012 season. Their loss of Prince Fielder will be huge, probably not as big as the Cardinals’ loss of Pujols but still, it will affect the Brewer’s enormously in this upcoming season. Without Prince, they truly won’t be the same team. It’s not just the stats but the presence in the lineup that the big bat possesses. Prince collected 107 walks last year, most on the team by almost a factor of 2. These walks add up; despite batting .299 Prince garnered a .415 OBP. This is higher than Ryan Braun’s. This incredibly high OBP by your 3 and 4 guys (.397 and .415 respectively) translates into many runs and scoring opportunities by your 5, 6 and 7 guys. The Brewers had 5 guys with 63 or more RBIs in 2011 (and to be fair Prince and Braun combined for 231 RBIs, the best 3-4 combo in the league). During the offseason, the Brewers attempted to fill the void left by Prince through the signing of Aramis Ramirez. I like Aramis a lot, I always thought he was an underrated hitter during his years in Chicago, but to be honest he’s not Prince Fielder, he’s not Prince by a long shot. His presence and his stats are just not the same. Sure Aramis can be and most likely be a really strong hitter in the 4 spot in that lineup, but the Brewers offense will not be nearly as productive with him as they were with Prince. Along with Prince, the Brewers lost a couple of key guys. including Betancourt, McGehee, and utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. McGehee and Betancourt both posting productive 2011s (they were 2 of the 5 guys mentioned earlier with 63+ RBIs). But the Brewers managed to hold onto some key players such as Corey Hart and add a promising Japanese star in Norichika Aoki, who has played his entire career in the Japanese Central League for the Yakult Swallows (ok that name is almost as stupid as the Brewers). To sum things up, the Brewer’s offense in 2012 will definitely be good but with the loss of Prince and Ryan Braun, posting a career season in 2011 that will be tough to match, especially with the controversy he has garnered recently, the Brewers offensive numbers will drop, but they will still maintain themselves as being an offensive powerhouse in the NL. The Brewer’s pitching is also really, really tough. All their 5 starters last year posted a W/L of over .500 with all of them going 17-10, 13-7, 13-10, 16-6, and 11-8. And the Brewers didn’t lose any of their starters. Now I recognize that most of these wins were due to the offensive firepower of the Brewers, but four of their starters have ERA’s less than 3.85. Their starting staff also includes former Cy Young award winner, Zach Grienke who had a relatively poor 2011 campaign but will surely return to prominence in 2012. They also have John Axford’s mustache who will surely post another monster 40+ SV season. Now onto the Ryan Braun story. In my opinion it was never really a big deal. Ryan Braun is actually one of the few people I believed when he initially came out in defense of his steroid use. The thing is steroid use really isn’t that prominent in the MLB today. I mean if you look at the numbers today compared to 10 years ago you will see a huge difference. Just look at A-Roid as an example. Before 2007, he perennially hit 45+ homeruns each season. Last year he hit a career low, abysmal 16 homeruns. In my opinion, steroid use really isn’t a big deal in the MLB today.
Finish: 1st in NL Central
Playoffs: Lose in NLCS
Top Pitcher: Zach Grienke 3.14 ERA, 18-7, 204 SO
Top Hitter: Ryan Braun .324, 31 HR, 110 RBI
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