The Milwaukee Brewers Replay: July 2011 Recap

Another month, another recap. We’ve finished July in the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers Replay, time to explore the stats a bit. With the help of a realistic computer game, and the input of online fans, we’re simulating the Brewer’s greatest season since 1982, and asking the question, "If things had happened differently in 2011, could the Brewers have made it to the World Series…. and won?"

At the end of July now, we’ve played 110 individual games for the Brewers, and auto-simulated everything for everyone else. As of July 31st, the Brewers remain at the top of the NL Central with an impressive win-loss record of 73-37 – the best in all of baseball (the next-best New York Yankees are 67-42). They’ve finished the month with a July record of 19-8 (just under their April record of 19-7). They also have a stunning home record of 41-12, literally unbeatable at Miller Park.

As far as the rest of the division, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are battling it out for second at 12 games back, the Chicago Cubs have slipped down to 16 games back, and the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros are virtual non-contenders. This just isn’t their year.

(see complete league standings and leaders; AL and NL)

In real life, at this point in the season, the Brewers were 60-49, in first place, and 2.5 games better than the second place St. Louis Cardinals. The Pittsburgh Pirates were in 3rd at 54-52 (4.5 games back).

In our replay, the Brewers are currently projected to win 104 games by the end of the season.

Follow the jump for much more!

July was a fun month. For one, we had the All-Star Game. In real life, the National League won, setting the stage for home-field advantage throughout the Playoffs. In our Replay, however, the exact opposite happened. The American League crushed the National League 11-3. As a result, we’re going to have an altered Playoff, no matter who’s playing.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo were all named to the National League team – four players from the Brewers. Braun, however, was the only Brewer voted in by the (simulated) fans as the starting left fielder.

Even though the National League lost, the All-Star Game was still a thriller. Seven home runs were hit in the game, and two of those home runs belonged to Ryan Braun. Yes… TWO! He went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. If the NL had come out on time, he would have undoubtedly been named the game’s MVP. Prince Fielder pinch-hit in the second inning, drawing a walk. Zack Greinke pitched 1/3 inning, throwing ten pitches, allowing two hits and no runs. Yovani Gallardo did not play.

The AL MVP was second baseman Robinson Cano, who went 4 for 5 with 3 runs and a home run.

(NOTE: - I did not manage either All-Star team, since the Brewer's manager was not one of the two league managers in real life. The computer controlled both lineups.)

If you’re interested, here’s the All-Star Game play-by-play. And for those that follow the Home Run Derby the day before, here are the home run-hitting results. Enjoy!

After the All-Star Game ended, and the second half of the season began, it almost felt like the Brewers had a renewed sense of determination. Home runs came with renewed vigor, as Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks seemed to have rediscovered their power. The Brewers went 12-5 after the break until the end of July, culminating with an awesome 16-3 beating of the last-place Houston Astros!

Once again, though, Mat Gamel stood out above the rest. Throughout the month of July, he’s turned up some altogether surprising stats. As of right now, he’s batting .316, with 54 hits in 171 at-bats. He’s got 3 doubles, 2 triples, and 10 home runs. He also has 26 runs and 33 RBIs while slugging .532. Without a doubt, he’s the Brewers new third baseman (even if he does have an error here and there).

I know this Replay project is merely a simulation of what could have happened, but I’m still going to go out on a limb and say… Mat Gamel may be a surprise in 2012. If he can produce like this – when given a chance, then our new first baseman may indeed be someone to watch in real life as well.

On the pitching side of things, Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo continue to dominate opponents. Greinke has an ERA of 3.28 in 181 innings pitched. He’s struck out 139 batters, and holds a season record of 18-3. There’s little doubt that he’ll be the Brewers first 20-game winner since Teddy Higuera in 1986.

Yovani Gallardo is 14-5 in 181.1 innings pitched, holds an ERA of 3.23, and leads the league with 186 strikeouts. It’s usually lights-out when he pitches, with double-digit strikeouts in a single game not at all unheard of.

In the bullpen, things are pretty solid with Takashi Saito, Zack Braddock, Kameron Loe, and Brandon Kintzler wrapping things up. Kintzler has the highest ERA of all four relievers at a respectable 3.55; Takashi Saito holds the lowest at an impressive 2.03. John Axford continues to dominate at the end of games with a league-leading 33 saves.

In addition, the Brewers have added Francisco Rodriguez to the bullpen, and he and John Axford have already begun putting together their real-life 1-2 punch. Rodriguez has a total 24 saves so far this season (most, of course, from his time on the New York Mets before the trade), and that gives the Brewers a fantastic 57 saves on the back end. Not much is going to get passed that duo.

Other transactions in the month of July included the addition of Felipe Lopez from the Tampa Bay Rays, and the sale of Wil Nieves to the Atlanta Braves. I chose, however, to forgo the trade for Jerry Hairston from the Washington Nationals since he isn’t as necessary as in real life. The Brewers traded for him to help fill the void that Casey McGehee had created at third base. In our Replay, however, there is no void – Mat Gamel has the position locked up, and brings the production Casey struggled with. I decided to save the Brewers some money, and leave things the way they are. Hairston is hitting only .147 with the Nationals; we’re not that desperate. He’ll stay on the Nationals. Eric Komatsu will remain in our minor league system.

Now that we’re into August, the only upcoming real-life transaction is that of Brett Carroll who is slated to be granted free agency on August 3rd. We’ll be following through on that. Brett hasn’t contributed anything of note to our Replay Brewers.

We’re into that part of the season now where the race to the Playoffs starts to take shape. The Brewers look to hold their dominance in the NL Central, while keeping the desperate St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates at bay. If things keep going like they are, I think we’ll be seeing the Brewers start to lock up the division by the end of August. Anything is possible, though, and the Brewers do have a history of tiring by season’s end. We’ll just keep playing…. and see what happens.

If you’d like to follow along with the Replay, check the stats/standings, or you’d like to participate in managing the team, take a moment and check out the project’s newly upgraded Facebook page (now in the stunning "Timeline" format!). Click "Like" and help us improve the Brewers’ fortunes with your own management input. We’re on the homestretch now. Can the Brewers make it to the World Series?

Join us and find out!

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