We are now halfway through the 2018 MLB season and the Milwaukee Brewers 13 games over .500, good enough for the second best win percentage in the National League, are .5 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs and 5.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central lead.
Also providing help is the likes of Travis Shaw. Last week I deemed it to be an overreaction to say the Brewers needed someone else to step up at third. Shaw is having a down year but after drawing five walks and three hits in only 12 at bats this past week, his on-base percentage sits at a cool .346; not bad.
The unsung ace of the starting rotation Junior Guerra gave up four earned runs against the Cincinnati Reds, only his third start this season giving up more than three.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Brewers 2018 sustained success, though, is breakout star first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
Jesus Aguilar will be an All-Star
Well, let’s just get this out of the way: His name is not even on the ballot and would need write-in votes, and as of the last update he was nowhere near getting a spot via fan vote.
But there are other avenues thankfully.
The players vote on who gets onto the All-Star teams as reserves and the fans also get one last Fan Vote, which could feature the Brewers first baseman.
Aguilar, who barely even made the team this year after a string of new acquisitions made by the Brewers, has a batting average of .309, is in the top ten for NL players with 54 RBIs and is third in the NL with 19 home runs.
Oh, and he also didn’t start until about a month into the season. And that would not have happened unless Eric Thames went down with a thumb injury.
He is having an all-around career year, but his weighted Runs Above Average (where zero is average) truly stands out: 20.2. His weighted on-base percentage is also .413, which is actually better than Lorenzo Cain (.366), who seemingly is always on base.
Aguilar is truly a hitters hitter. Not the new normal of power or strikeout. His 13 pitch walk-off home run against the Miami Marlins earlier in the year is a testament. His 0-2 game-tying home run against the Cardinals two weeks ago is another testament (oh and he also hit a walk-off in that game too).
With the injuries currently facing the Brewers (Cain and Yelich both out) and the type of success he has had this season, Aguilar an All-Star spot should not be in question. It should be a lock.
We should move past that discussion and move right on to the NL MVP discussion.
The Brewers need to make a trade
Syndergaard is injured currently, but well on his way back, and when healthy he is one of the most dominant arms in baseball.
This report makes sense considering what Brewers GM David Stearns said last week while on a minor league baseball radio broadcast. He expressed how the team would not look to add “depth” guys but looking for someone who could “lead the rotation.”
Syndergaard could do that, but at a price for the Brewers. Most likely their top hitting prospect, Keston Hirua, and pitching prospect, Corbin Burnes. Not to mention other prospects down the list they would also have to part with.
Going after a pitcher seems to be all of the rumors the Brewers are apart of leading up to the trade deadline, but pitching may not be what they really need.
Looking to team ERA, the Brewers are the sixth best team in all of baseball. Obviously, the All-Star bullpen has helped that number, but the likes of Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra, Chase Anderson and Brent Suter have held their own.
Chacin is shaping up to, very surprisingly, be the best pitcher of the 2017 free agents, with a 3.71 ERA and a 3.94 FIP. Guerra leads the Brewers starters with a 3.05 ERA.
Would it be nice to add an arm like Syndergaard? Of course and I would be totally on board with that, especially considering his three years of team control. But should they be desperate enough to rent a guy like J.A. Happ?
Happ, 35, is only under contract through this season and has an ERA of 4.03 and a FIP of 3.65. Sure it would be great to have an innings eater like Happ in the rotation, and his 2.1 WAR would be a nice addition, but do the Brewers need it?
The window for this organization to contend is wide open. A middle of the road, but strong farm system. All-Stars like Cain, Yelich, Aguilar and Shaw under contract for years to come. An all-time bullpen showing no signs of slowing up.
Saying they need to make a trade is desperate at best. They could use it and I would surely welcome a guy like Syndergaard, but Happ can stay in Toronto.