It’s almost a nightly ritual at my house that my dad and I are begging my mom to turn on the Brewer game, citing that it is a big game. Because yes, every game is a big game when you are in first place. I’m sure by this point in the Major League Baseball season that no one expected the Brewers to be leading the National League Central. So how did this unexpected season happen?
It all started when the Brewers plucked super slugger 1B Eric Thames in the offseason from the Korean Baseball Organization. You can read all about Eric Thames’ career here. With the addition of Thames at first base, he adds some power to the lineup that didn’t seem to be a long-ball threat aside from OF Ryan Braun. Thames has hit 23 home runs (which is tied for seventh in the league) thus far and we aren’t even to the All-Star Break yet. With that many home runs, it’s hard to believe that the slugger wasn’t invited to the All-Star Game or the Home Run Derby.
In addition to Thames, the Brewers also traded for a key cog in their revival in 3B Travis Shaw this offseason. Shaw is having a career year, leading the club in batting average, RBIs, and hits. Shaw, who spent last season with the Boston Red Sox, has 18 home runs this season. Another reason Shaw is loved so much by the Brew Crew and their fan base has been his toughness. One day after leaving a game with a bruised wrist on Sunday, he was back to hitting home runs on Monday as the Brewers took down the Orioles.
After trading C Jonathon Lucroy to the Rangers last August and then in December trading away C Martin Maldonado to the Angels, there were a few questions with what the Brewers would do at the catcher position. But they have somehow found a perfect harmony in the combination of Jett Bandy (acquired from the Maldonado trade) and Manny Piña. While Piña has played in more games, the two catchers are nearly tied in all hitting categories.
Another key to the Brewers’ success is the emergence of the Crew’s younger players. SS Orlando Arcia, OF Keon Broxton, and OF Domingo Santana have all stepped up this season. With injuries to other players such as Braun and 2B Jonathan Villar, the Brewers have managed to continue winning in their absence thanks to the aforementioned youngsters. These three have incredible speed, and this is the only proof you need.
Another astonishing reason for the Brewers’ winning ways this season is their ability to hit to the fences. The Brewers have the second most home runs in the MLB this year, only trailing the Astros.
Hopefully the Brewers can continue to win after the All-Star Break and maintain their lead in the NL Central. But one thing is for certain, I didn’t see any of this coming for the Brewers this year but I am loving every second of it!