Let me just start this week’s column by saying that if Jesús Aguilar does not make the All-Star game, then the All-Star game is not even worth watching.
After calling the take of “Aguilar should be an All-Star” an under reaction last week, citing the fact he is more than that as a legitimate MVP candidate, he’s gotten better.
Prior to play on Monday, Aguilar is first in NL in slugging percentage and OPS, tied for first in homeruns, tied for second in RBIs and tied for eighth in batting average.
Better yet, he is 81st in at bats. He didn’t even hit his first home run until April 21, a month into the season.
So take the time, believe in Jesús, and vote in the best player on the best team in the National League into the Mid-Summer Classic.
My other take, which I rated as an over reaction, was that of the Brewers needing to make a trade.
Rumors have kept swirling about the Brewers and potential trades with the likes of super utility player Whit Merrifield of the Royals, middle infielder Jeb Lowrie of the Athletics and pitchers Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, but this last week added the top get on the trade market.
According to reporting from multiple MLB writers (Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and Jon Morosi) the Brewers have emerged as one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to land perennial All-Star and MVP candidate shortstop Manny Machado.
On the cusp of his free agency, Machado is putting up career best numbers. A .313/.382/.560 hitting line would be career bests in all categories. His 3.2 WAR would also be a nice addition for the Brewers at a position which has produced negative WAR on the season.
And apparently the price has gone down on Machado, as his status as a rental player has made teams shy away from losing top prospects. Hypothetical being thrown around are a top pitching prospect (Corbin Burnes), an outfield prospect (Keon Broxton or Brett Phillips) and another lower level minor league player for the star player.
If that is the true price for a player who would move the Brewers from contending for a NL Central title to contending for their first World Series win in franchise history, I make that trade as soon as possible.
But the window for the Brewers contending is wide open and it would be very easy to see the Brewers staying the path and sticking with what they have.
Now onto the takes.
This last week before the All-Star break is important
In short, yes.
This past week they went 6-1 sweeping the Twins and taking three of four against the Braves who are a top team this year. They won via pitching, hitting and everything in between.
This last week before the break they have the lowly Marlins and the Pirates. Two teams the Brewers should be able to easily handle and take two more series wins into All-Star Break.
With rival Cubs only 1.5 games back and playing competitive teams like the Giants, this set of games will be crucial in extending their NL Central lead.
That lead looks even more fragile when looking at who the Brewers will be taking on coming out of the gates for the second half. Their first three opponents are the Dodgers, Nationals and Giants. All three teams will be in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Making sure to take care of the teams you’re supposed to beat has sometimes proven difficult for this Brewers team (looking at you Reds).
This last week of games is very important for the Brewers.
Verdict: Dead on
The Brewers shouldn’t trade Keon Broxton
At 28 years old, Broxton started the season in the minors, behind a major league log jam the Brewers had and still have in the outfield. But with injuries consistently taking either Braun, Yelich, Cain and mostly just Braun on the DL for 10 days at a time, Broxton has proven valuable on the bench.
Over the past couple of weeks the centerfielder robbed three homeruns, two of which proved to be potential game savers. He single-handedly destroyed the Reds scoring or driving in seven of the teams eight runs in a 8-2 win.
He’s been on the major league team for less then a month and has already amassed a 1.4 WAR, six homeruns and three stolen bases.
With the combo of speed, stellar defense and power, Broxton seems like a logical fit to replace Cain as he will at some point regress with age. But back to the first sentence of this section, he is 28. That’s only four years younger than Cain.
Plus Cain has only improved this year. Broxton is very expendable and if a team would rather have him then the 24 year old Brett Phillips who also plays centerfield, you pull the trigger.
Verdict: Over reaction
Lukewarm take: Lorenzo Cain is still the best player on the team
Still leading the NL in WAR with 4.1, Cain has shown no signs of letting up in what is shaping up to be one the best seasons of his nine year major league career.
The next closest outfielder in WAR is Nick Markakis with 3.0. A career high .393 on-base percentage has been buoyed by a career high walk rate. To date, Cain has 44 walks on the season, 10 off of his career best he set last year. There is still a whole half of a season left.
His peers have rewarded him giving him his second All-Star appearance. Cain will be joined by Christian Yelich and Josh Hader, with Aguilar hoping to join them via fan vote.