Yes, it’s true. Don’t scratch your eyes. The Milwaukee Brewers are tied for first place in the National League Central with the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
Now, if this was one week into the season or even just one month in, it could be argued that it was just a lucky start by the Brewers and they would eventually regress as the season went on. But here we are: a little over two months into the season, Brewers in first place and contending in just about every game they play in. A far cry from last years team, a fun but otherwise lack luster squad.
One-third of the season has passed and the Brewers are contenders. Nothing anyone predicted. Even the front office and the managers are probably shocked by their team’s ability. So what now?
A team who two years ago committed itself to a full rebuild that began with unloading Carlos Gomez to the Houston Astros, has hit a fork in the road. Continue on the track of contention and do what nobody thought possible by making the playoffs in 2017, or continue selling, trading away players for prospects in hopes of a brighter future.
Other contending teams all over the league could have a need for first basemen Eric Thames in the field or as a designated hitter. His 15 home runs and 1.018 OPS is extremely valuable no matter what team he is on. Especially taking into account his cheap contract. The Brewers could get a haul in return for the slugger.
Travis Shaw has defied the expectations of his former team, the Boston Red Sox, and proved himself to be an everyday third basemen. In fact he has actually proven much more. Shaw is batting for a line of .292/.339/.530 and has hit 10 home runs to go along with his team leading 40 RBIs. He has proven to be, so far, an All-Star level player.
Pitching wise, the Brewers have also found some form of consistency in the forms of Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson. Both hovering around an ERA of 3.30 and proving they can go deep into games.
Anderson almost tossed a no-hitter (for the second time in as many seasons) against the Arizona Diamondbacks while Nelson threw eight innings of shut-out baseball against the prolific Los Angles Dodgers.
All of these players and pitchers could be unloaded and flipped to other contending teams for different prospects and high quality players ready to make an impact. The Brewers could go about as business as usual on the rebuild. But this season has been anything but usual.
Currently, the Brewers already have a top-tier farm system with pitching prospects and hitters alike all over the MLB top 100 prospects. All except the Brewers low-A team, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, have winning records and are in the top two of their respective leagues. The prospects are already there, giving even more reason for the Brewers to continue contending instead of selling off their surprisingly good players this season.
Thames, Shaw, Anderson and Nelson could very well bring in a haul of prospects pushing the farm system even further up the rankings, but they could also be the cornerstones that lead the Brewers back into playoffs for the first time since 2011.
If the last six years of not contending (really the whole history of the franchise) have proven anything to Brewer fans, it has shown that contending teams do not come around often. Don’t sell out your future for a World Series, but don’t impede the progress of a contending team either.