This Milwaukee Brewers team was not supposed to be able to build on their surprisingly entertaining 2016 season. They were supposed to be in the cellar of the National League Central division, with the long road of a rebuild ahead.
Manager Craig Counsell’s team, however, had no inkling towards being the expected 2017 Brewers team. Instead, they played every game like it was their last, in playoff competition right up until game number 161.
Everything swung in Milwaukee’s favor. First baseman Eric Thames did translate his power from Korean Leagues to the Major Leagues, hitting 31 dingers to go along with a .518 slugging percentage. Travis Shaw was one of the most consistent third baseman in all of baseball, hitting for 31 homeruns and 101 RBIs to go along with his stellar defensive play.
With the departure of Jonathan Lucroy, it was thought the catching position would be up in the air for most of the season. Manny Pina had other ideas, like leading the team in batting average and cutting 21 baserunners down as they attempted to steal a base.
Right fielder Domingo Santana played his way into the future of this franchise. With 30 homeruns, 85 RBIs and a slashline of .278/.371/.505, there is no way Santana will not be starting come Opening Day 2018.
Pitching wise, Jimmy Nelson was so good he found himself on the All-MLB third team with the likes of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. Closer Corey Knebel found himself on the first team, and also broke the record for consecutive outings with a strikeout.
Starting pitcher Zach Davies, who started the season very poorly, proved to be almost untouchable in away games. His ERA away from Miller Park was 2.04, helping Davies tie with Zack Greinke for the National League lead for 17 wins on the season.
Oh, and that is just the talent already at the major league level that lead the Brewers to their shocking 86-76 record that defied even the highest of preseason expectations.
The Brewers have one of the elite minor league systems in the MLB with studs like outfielder Lewis Brinson, second baseman Isan Diaz, starting pitchers Corbin Burnes and pitcher Freddy Peralta all ready to wrestle their way into the major league conversation.
Prospects Brett Phillips and Josh Hader already made a huge impact at the Major League level. Phillips bat got hot just as the playoff hunt was coming to a head, and Hader and his pitches made fools out of the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper.
What made this team the most successful team, though, was their ability to always have fun and play America’s past time with the fun-loving passion children normally only have.
On the base path.
In the bullpen.
With other teams.
This team, if not the most successful, was the most fun Brewers team ever. And I for one am just glad we all got to go along for the ride with them.