THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS ARE IN FIRST PLACE.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Logan, this is the Loaded Box. Why are you writing about baseball?” Well intrepid reader, I know this site is mainly for football and football accessories, but I had to write something for the cultured reader. Someone who understands the finer things in life like, for example, why the batting average stat is dead and why OPS is the best determination of a good player (I can literally see the football boys faces turning red at the thought of math and analytics). Anyone can write about dudes in spandex killing their brains for our entertainment, I mean…shit, DJ writes here. But I digress, back to my initial point.
The Brewers are in first place one quarter through the MLB season and unlike the pansies in the NFL, these mighty warriors have to play 162 games, so I know there is still a long way to go and I’m not trying to get too crazy, but I can still be excited about it. Quick note, did you know most NFL players don’t even play 162 games their entire career?! Sad! Sorry got distracted, again I digress.
It’s actually pretty weird how the Brewers have got to this point 42 games in. They don’t hit particularly well. The home run numbers are on pace to be way down from last season even though the lineup on paper has improved significantly. Until last nights victory over Arizona, they had a run differential of +1. You probably couldn’t tell me 2 guys in their starting rotation. They’ve sent a total of ten guys initially on the opening day roster to the DL already which is absolutely absurd. 2nd base has been a freakin’ disaster. Braun is a 20 million dollar walking corpse of himself right now. Sow how the hell do they have this lead in what looks like is going to be a very competitive division?
THE BULLPEN HAS BEEN THE BEST IN TEAM HISTORY
The starting pitching for much of this season has been in a word, uninspiring. True there have been a lot of injuries (they’ve used 8 starting pitchers so far), but guys like Chacin, Suter, Guerra, and Davies don’t necessarily bring the thunder. Getting through even 5 innings has been a tough task just about every time out there for most of these guys. So the bulk of the pitching load has been forced upon the bullpen, and honestly when Corey Knebel went down and the bullpen immediately blew 2 straight games against the Cubs I was supremely concerned. Right when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they play like this and totally redeem themselves! At the start of this week, the bullpen had a line of 10.3/K and a very low walk rate. Their swing and miss rate is 20%. And folks, if you haven’t had a sip of Haderade yet may I offer you a glass? He’s currently a top reliever in baseball and I basically go from 6 to midnight whenever he pitches. Despite him looking like the preacher from Deadwood, the brewers are 15-0 in games he pitches in. In 25 Innings, the guy has 50(!) strikeouts, has only given up 6(!!) walks, his WHIP I can’t believe I have to do this, Walks and hits per inning pitched is a .520(!!!) The numbers are going to be tough to keep up as the season goes on and even more inevitable injuries mount up, but for the time being the pen has answered the call.
THE CALL UPS HAVE BEEN SOLID AND GUYS HAVE STEPPED UP
Injuries have been a pretty big punch in the gut to this team. A sign of a good team is depth and up to this point the brewers have had to go pretty deep to get guys to step up. Just this Sunday, Freddy Peralta was set to make his debut in Colorado…for the AAA team in Colorado Springs, but when Chase went to the DL he got the sport start on Sunday against the Rockies instead and was a damned monster, striking out 13 and digging the crew out of a hole. Guerra who started down in AAA has been a somewhat steady arm. He has his implosions, but you know you he will eat some innings for you and not be totally horrible. Taylor Williams was a nice addition to the bullpen when Knebel went down and looks like he has the staying power to finish with the big league club. I thank the Cleveland Indians every day for waiving Jesus Aguilar: Professional Hitter. He has a plus .850 OPS and it seems like every time you watch a game the dude is driving in a run or getting on base a bunch. Plus he did this. God I love that.
CAIN AND YELICH HAVE BEEN AS ADVERTISED
When the Brewers traded for Yelich I squealed and scared my co-worker Carol. Not to be a bitch Carol, but It’s not often you get a 26 year old on base machine who can play all 3 outfield positions and who also will bop 20 out the park so you can take that write up you sent to HR about my random outbursts and go to hell. Then when I found out we landed Cain on the same day,(Mom if you’re reading this skip to the next paragraph) I got a little lift off the old bean bag. Milwaukee never does things like this, and it was a clear indication that the rebuild was over, and the team was set to contend. The Brewers knew they needed more run production at the top of the lineup and hot damn have they got it. Even with Yelich having a stint on the DL, he and Cain have been able to combine for an OPS of .822, walk 40 times, score 42 times and hit 8 homeruns. In 2017 the top 2 hitters in batting orders average OPS was a .771, so they have well surpassed that, and it doesn’t even feel like they’ve hit full stride. They aren’t going to have the power numbers of other top 2 tandems, but they are going to set the table and score a lot of runs this year.
The thing that gives me most hope is that most of the big name guys really haven’t played to their averages yet. Shaw and Santana are just getting started. I complain about Braun, but he will wind up playing 100 games and creeping up to an .800 OPS like he always does. Nelson is going to come back and sinker ball the shit outta people. You can’t convince me otherwise. I mean, it’s not like we’ve blown early season division leads before, right?
Check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys talk rookie fantasy football rankings for WR’s & TE’s