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Fear the Beer

In Sports on August 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Why Milwaukee could be this Fall’s  Cinderella Team

by:  Eric Buenning

If you watch ESPN as much as I do, you’d realize that (apparently) only four baseball clubs matter:  the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees,  the Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Francisco Giants. The other 26 teams?  Please.  Well, that’s going to change this fall.

Fear the Beer.

Yes, the Milwaukee Brewers will be around for a long time this fall.   Here’s why:

STARTING PITCHING

Outside of Philadelphia, there may not be a more well-rounded 5-man rotation in the Majors right now.  Their starters have combined for a 49-28 record (63% winning percentage) with a 3.89 ERA, with 587 strikeouts opposed to 209 walks.  That equals out to 2.81 strikeouts/walk, which is one of the best ratios in the league.  They also average 6 innings a start which leads me to my next point.

BULLPEN (SPECIFICALLY, THE BACK END)

If the starters are lasting 6 or 7 innings a start, you should be a pretty solid team.  But when you have a back end of the bullpen like Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford (arguably the most dominant and hottest 8th and 9th inning guys in league right now), you are prepared to do great things as a pitching staff.  K-Rod and Axford combine to only give up a run every 3.51 innings, while boasting a combined 3.12 strikeout/walk ratio.  If they continue to be as dominant as they have been all year, the end of close games shouldn’t be as stressful and a lot more successful then the Gagne/Turnbow/Hoffman days.  The Brewers have as close as you can get to a sure thing in the back end of the bullpen, which is something only maybe three teams can say. Why wouldn’t the Brewers have a shot?  Especially when you combine the pitching with….

OFFENSE

The offense (if you go with the usual lineup of Fielder-Weeks-Betancourt-McGehee-Braun-Morgan-Hart-Lucroy) is batting .286 with a .346 on-base percentage.  These guys can flat out hit, and people like Betancourt, McGehee, and Weeks are/were either slumping severely or out of the lineup due to injury.  This lineup has it all: speed, power, guys who get on base, and guys who bring ’em home.  Now that Betancourt and McGehee are heating up as well, the bottom of the Brewers’ lineup has become as dangerous as any.  If teams can’t get those guys out (which, recently, hasn’t been easy), then they are in a world of  trouble when the lineup flips back over to the run producers.  Only maybe the Red Sox and Yankees can say they have a more complete lineup than Milwaukee right now.  So, why are we not in the mix of title contenders?  I have no clue.  Especially when you consider…

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

For starters, they’re 41-15 at home, the best record in baseball. But this goes beyond numbers.

Milwaukee is the smallest market in all of baseball.  Smaller than teams like the Marlins, Pirates, Dodgers, and Indians, to name a few.  So how come those teams have problems filling the stands, whereas Miller Park is full just about every single game?  For one, the teams are better, but we already covered that.  The real reason is that Brewers’ fans are some of the best and most supportive in the league.  Night in and night out 40,000-plus make the trip to Miller Park  for one of two reasons: 1.) get drunk or 2.) cheer on their home team.  These fans love their players more than any other fan base out there.  The players acknowledge it.  In that article written by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, John Axford said that “these fans have an insane passion about their teams.  It’s a smaller city, they know you and they love it.  It’s fantastic”.  You also don’t often hear about teams giving players standing ovations for a player signing a contract extension, do you?  Well,  that’s exactly what happened with Ryan Braun this year.  Brewers fans treat their teams like family.  I’ve been comparing the Brewers to the “power” franchises so far in this article, but NOBODY can say they have a more personal, loyal, and deeper connection than the Brewers and their fans.

With that all being said, the Brewers still get little to no love on the major networks.  How can they when seemingly 95% of all nationally televised games involve some sort of combination of Red Sox-Yankees-Phillies-Cardinals-Giants?  That’s fine.  The Brewers will take that for now.  They’ll more than make up for lost time in October.

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  1. I am in love with that Miller Park photo! It captivates exactly what the Brewers are at home! Go Crew!

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