Going into the regular season, the Milwaukee Brewers were designated as a franchise who’s recent transgressions included housing a deceptive PED user in Ryan Braun while simultaneously regressing to abysmal levels of athletic ineptitude during the 2013 season (compiled a record of 74-88, 4th in NL Central). However, despite these controversial setbacks, the Brewers have weathered the media storm of yesteryear and have miraculously risen from the ashes as the best team in baseball. Although the 2014 regular season is still in its early stages, it can’t be denied that the Brewers have emphatically put themselves back on the map as one of the best defensive teams in the league. While the Brewers still have some offensive discrepancies to alter if they want to be supremely successful in the long run, their triumphant efforts thus far have been awe-inspiring to say the least.
From game one, the Brewers came into opening day with the mentality that their bullpen would be the show stoppers while their offense would be the sly contributors that could score at the right time. Throughout their 18 wins, the Brewers have only given up more than four runs on two occasions (won 7-6 against the Boston Red Sox and won 8-7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates). This consistent defensive output is in large thanks to the poise and perseverance of the Brewers sensational starting pitches in Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse.
While Gallardo has always been a reliable starter throughout his seven year career in the majors, he has gotten off to a remarkable start this year as his ERA has been practically immaculate at 1.42. Even in the games in which his team eventually lost, Gallardo has never given up runs easily, and is a hitter’s worst enemy as long as he remains on the mound.
Although Kyle Lohse may not have the deadly ERA prowess of Gallardo (his ERA is still astounding at 2.38), his strike zone artistry can’t be overlooked. In the five games he has pitched in, Lohse has successfully stuck out 31 batters and is currently on pace to strike out 201 batters by seasons end if he keeps up his current pace. On top of that, Lohse has made it an arduous task for even the most gifted hitters to get a base hit as he has held the opposition to a minuscule batting average of .198 (throughout his career, Lohse has allowed an opposing batting average of .274).
Aside from the Brewers dominant bullpen, they also have a few tenacious hitters who have made their presence known in critical situations. Despite Braun’s PED controversy, his ill-advised transgressions haven’t dissuaded him from doing what he does best. Braun’s batting average and on base percentage have been stellar (.318 batting average and .361 on base percentage) along with his coveted scoring capabilities that have uplifted the Brewers when his team as needed it the most (six homeruns and 18 RBI’s).
Even with Braun’s undeniable offensive output, infielder Aramis Ramirez and center fielder Carlos Gomez have likewise been essential to the Brewers moments of offensive brilliance. Although his 16 year tenure in the majors would seem to suggest that Ramirez is experiencing his last years of prominence, his solid batting average (.280) and 18 RBI’s are an objective presentation of this mans capabilities when he steps up to the plate. His stoic discipline and veteran confidence are impressive attributes that have lent themselves well to the Brewers sporadic albeit capable offensive attack. By far the most improved offensive player on the Brewers roster is their centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Between last year and this year, Gomez clearly dedicated an ample amount of time to improving his swing (batting average of .256 last year, batting average of .297 this season), while his well-developed patients at the plate has given him more opportunities to get on base (OBP of .306 last season, .357 OBP this year).
In the end, the Milwaukee Brewers have found the defensive magic they need to excel in a competitive NL Central division that contains a plethora of offensive juggernauts and methodically deadly pitchers. Although the Brewers offensive output can’t be deemed as an exceptional sight just yet, their deep bullpen has been this teams victorious MO and will continue to give their opponents trouble as the regular season progresses. While it may be too early to say that the Brewers are hands down the best team in baseball, their well-earned victories and sheer dominance as of recently have certainly put them in the conversation as a team that could potentially win their division for the first time since 2011.