It's a semi-annual feature, the Best and Worst of the Milwaukee Brewers first half! The first half of the season is done so it's time for us to once again steal the Best and Worst format from With Spandex and cover the good, the bad and the ugly of the Brewers first half.
But before we get into that, I need to remind you that the Miller Park Drunk Pants Party aka The Greatest Tailgate Party Of The Summer is coming up in just ten days. Strangely, there are still tickets available and we would really like for you to come. Tickets include a game ticket, beer koozie, commemorative cup, all-you-can-eat delicious tailgate food and all-you-can-drink beer/strawberry, jalapeno and watermelon infused margaritas/more. We are grilling up brats, bringing back the brat pizza from last year and doing NY-themed meatball sandwiches. It's going to be good. The game is 7/27. You can get four tickets for $120. All you need to do is show up and watch the Brewers beat the Mets. You will have the time of your life. Do it. (And if you can't go you can at least buy a koozie pack.)
The Brewers are in first place so this should be easy, right? Everything is a best! It is the greatest season ever! We are cruising into the playoffs! Right? Right?!
BEST: Not being a .500 team
Before the season I would've bet a lot of money that the Brewers would be a .500 team and hang out around third or fourth place for the entirety of the season. Never good enough to be buyers, never bad enough to be sellers. Just a team that is there in the middle that drives us absolutely nuts. Thankfully for me, I don't have a lot of money. Thankfully for all of us, the Brewers are awesome.
Maybe the Brewers record is just a house of cards, built on a hot start and a hot month, but I don't really care. The "not losing a series" streak was awesome, the numerous late inning heroics were awesome and everything else was great. Before the last week or so this was the greatest season and there is nothing that can take that away. Whatever happens the rest of the season it was fun to care about things, it was fun to remember how awesome baseball can be when you don't suck.
WORST: That Last Week Though
Remember how I said nothing could take away those first couple of months? Well, they tried. They tried very hard. How bad was it? This is a picture from the locker room just one week ago:
Yeah, it was pretty bad.
With Sunday's win against the Cardinals, the Brewers will come out of the break with a one game lead in the division. That is big, but it's hard not to think what could have been. The Brewers were standing on the throat of their NL Central opponents (wearing cleats) and instead chose to extend their hand and give them help up. YOU DON'T GIVE THE CARDINALS A HELPING HAND, EVER. Allen Craig won't hit like Irving Falu forever. Holliday and Carpenter will start hitting with power eventually and Oscar Taveras will haunt our nightmares for years to come. This isn't a game. The Cardinals are coming. The Reds are there. Wake the fuck up.
Remember when there were only two answers to this question? (Or two answers and some meth head looking dude who would always argue for Corey Hart.) Good times, but also, you know, not good times. This Brewers lineup is the most balanced it's been in forever and the "Who is the best Brewer?" argument is something that you can talk about for hours at a time.
- Jonathan Lucroy
The favorite. Who can really argue with someone saying the guy who plays the most physically taxing and important position on the diamond, has the best batting average, second best OPS and hits third is the best player on the team? Plus, he's kinda cute. JONATHAN LUCROY IS THE BEST BREWER!
- Carlos Gomez
The most exciting Brewer. When he's playing the best centerfield defense in the league he is in the argument if he hits .220, but he doesn't hit .220. He hits .300 with an .880 OPS while hitting 14 homeruns and leading the team in steals. He could be the MVP of the whole league. How can he not be the best Brewer?
- Ryan Braun
The sleeping giant. Except he's not sleeping. This season hasn't exactly been vintage Ryan Braun, but his .298/.348/.515 slash line is freaking awesome. A great season for 98% of players is somehow the third best on this team. Braun leads the team in SLG and RBI and seems like he a threat to overtake his teammates at any time. Maybe he is the best Brewer.
- Scooter Gennett
You're not right if you say this, but at least you have an argument. An .828 OPS? For Scooter Gennett? Is this Doug Melvin fan fiction?
- Zach Duke
The cool kids answer. His 1.5 WAR is second on the team among pitchers to Kyle Lohse who has pitched 109 more innings. So, yeah, pretty good. He's the relief god I thought Will Smith was a month ago.
WORST: That bench though
You know how Aaron Rodgers got hurt last season and you basically assumed the Packers season was over? That's basically the entire Brewers offense right now. Logan Schafer, Jeff Bianchi, Elian Herrera and Irving Falu have all been caught holding the bat from the wrong end at multiple points during the season. There are five Scott Tolziens on the roster right now.
Rickie Weeks has been having a decent season when he starts, but when he's subbing/pinch hitting he's Elian Bianchi with a .244/.354/.268 line. (This wouldn't be so bad if this didn't make up for 1/3 of his PAs.) Why do I bring this up? Because shitty pinch hit Weeks is better than these other guys. The bench is a joke that isn't funny. The bench is Gallagher without a watermelon.
BEST: Good Wily
Good Wily is my favorite Brewers pitcher by far. A month ago I called him the new Gallardo because sometimes he was really good and sometimes he was really bad. I had no idea how right I was.
Split ▾ ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W in Wins 2.57 66.2 56 23 19 6 13 47 1.035 6.3 3.62 in No Dec. 3.50 18.0 19 10 7 3 6 14 1.389 7.0 2.33 in Losses 6.09 34.0 47 24 23 6 12 28 1.735 7.4 2.33
Some of this is just bs. I mean, of course he pitches worse in losses. They lost. This isn't groundbreaking research here, but those walk and homerun numbers really jump out. Again, not groundbreaking, but if Wily gives up walks and homeruns he's going to lose. He is more than 2x worse when he loses. He is Ben Sheets in wins and Jeff Suppan in losses. When Wily pitches bad, he's really bad.
(All research is a Miller Park Drunk exclusive and I demand full credit for it.)
0-2 Runs: 2.95 ERA
3-5 Runs: 2.68 ERA
6+ Runs: 5.36 ERA
Hey, aren't you supposed to pitch better with a lead? Like, all you have to do is give up less than 6 runs and you'll win. That doesn't mean give up EXACTLY less than six. Stop doing that, Wily.
BEST?: The bullpen three
Sometimes I feel like the Will Smith/K-Rod/Zach Duke trio is the team's greatest strength, a modern day Nasty Boys that can mow down the best of any team and shorten any game down to six or seven innings. While other times I feel like they will be the end of us. Maybe K-Rod's homers, Will Smith's walks and Zach Duke's deal with the devil will catch up with us and rip our hearts out through our butts. I don't know what happens, but I truly believe when these three are all clicking at the same time there is nothing that can stop them. Can that happen? Does Roenicke know how to unleash their power? I hope so. I really do.
SILVER LINING BEST: The First Base Platoon
Trying to be positive here so here's some math:
Overybay 2Bs/HRs + Reynolds 2Bs/HR = 32
Overbay Hits/Walks + Reynolds Hits/Walks = 152
21% of their positive production is power! We love power!
You know who else does that? Adam Dunn!
WORST: Ron Roenicke
Death. Taxes. Roenicke's managerial decisions that I fundamentally disagree with.
WORST/BEST: Jean Segura
If I wrote this a week ago Jean Segura would be the worstiest worst on the whole list. One of the most promising dudes on the team and an All-Star last year, Segura was a prime jersey buying candidate and a guy you could really get behind. This year? THE WORST. A .232/.266/.315 that makes Jeff Bianchi look like he deserves some starts. He's been the worst player by far on a team that starts a 60 year old Lyle Overbay on a regular basis. Worst of all, there's nothing the Brewers can do. He is the shortstop of the present and the future. They NEED him to develop and to develop he needs to play. Benching him does nothing. It sucks and I kinda hated him for being so bad.
But then he had this awful tragedy in his life. Something that makes baseball seem like the silly sport that it is and something that I don't even want to talk about because the sheer thought of it makes me sad in every part of my body. What happened to Jean Segura is terrible and shouldn't happen to anyone, but life isn't fair and terrible things happen. He's back to doing his job, back to playing the silly little game and back to being the Brewers shortstop. I'm rooting for him harder than anyone else on this team right now and he's basically removed from criticism for the rest of the year.
I want nothing more than Jean Segura to play like the guy he was last season for the rest of the year. To help the team to the playoffs and give us a happy ending to a story. That's what we all want because we're selfish people, but Jean Segura's life isn't a story. It's a life and the truth is that none of that really matters. Whether Jean Segura hits .100 or .300 doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. What's important is that he gets back to doing his thing and starts to become a real person again. To let go, to understand, to feel things and to allow himself to have a happy life again. Would a .300 batting average help that? Maybe, but that's not the be-all, end-all of everything. Being okay with the terrible things that happen in this life and living with them is and I wish Segura the best in that journey.
BEST: Tailgate Parties
Damn, shit got serious back there.
Who doesn't love a good tailgate? The feeling you get when you first pull in and see the stadium. The smells from all the other grills in the parking lot. The taste of that first ice cold beer on a hot summer day. That feeling of pride when you nail a bag in the hole for the first time of the day. The quiet anticipation of the upcoming game and the feeling that you get when you know that anything could happen and you're going to be there for it. The memories of tailgates past and the promise of future great tailgates. The friends, the food, the drinks, the baseball. It's awesome. We're so lucky to have Miller Park and this amazing tailgating experience.
Come to my last big tailgate party and experience my love letter to the Miller Park tailgating experience in person. I call it the Pants Party.
Tags: best and worst, carlos gomez, first half, first place, Jean Segura, jonathan lucroy, K-Rod, Lyle Overbay, mark Reynolds, pants party, ron roenicke, Ryan Braun, Scooter Gennett, st louis cardinals, tailgating, Will Smith, Wily Peralta, Zach Duke