MVBrewers is a player-by-player look at the most valuable members of the 2012 Brewers, as voted on by you. Here's our top ten:
1. Ryan Braun
2. Aramis Ramirez
3. Yovani Gallardo
4. Corey Hart
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Jonathan Lucroy
7. Carlos Gomez
8. Zack Greinke
9. Marco Estrada
You can see all ten player profiles in the Most Valuable Brewers 2012 section. The series continues tomorrow with the first of our Honorable Mentions.
On May 23, a door opened.
Marco Estrada, starting in place of Chris Narveson (who was out for the year with a shoulder injury), strained a quad running the bases and was going to miss a few starts. The Brewers considered several options but eventually settled on 26-year-old somewhat unheralded prospect Mike Fiers to take his place. Fiers had been dominant in the minors but wasn't a hard-thrower, so if that opportunity hadn't come along it's hard to tell how long he would've had to wait for his first chance.
Fiers capitalized on the shot, though, holding the Dodgers to a run on just five hits over seven innings in his first major league start on May 29. He's been in the rotation ever since, posting a 3.74 ERA over 127.2 innings in 23 appearances (22 starts).
Fiers' rookie campaign could have been even more incredible if he hadn't struggled down the stretch in September. Fiers had a 2.85 ERA on September 1 but allowed 23 runs on 37 hits over his final 26.2 innings. It's been suggested he simply ran out of gas at the end of a long season, although both he and the team have gone out of their way to deny that.
Either way, Fiers has been successful with a somewhat unlikely arsenal. His fastball tops out in the low 80's, and he complements it with a plus curveball, cutter and changeup. Nathaniel Stoltz of Beyond the Box Score had an in depth look at Fiers' successes in July, and in October Blake Murphy noted that his curveball has more vertical movement than other other major leaguer's.
Fiers was the driving force behind a Brewer win over the Reds on August 7, pitching a career-high eight innings and allowing a run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He was perfect through six innings on the day. Here are the highlights:
Fiers has less than one year of major league service time, so he still has multiple years of team control remaining and won't be eligible for arbitration until either 2015 or 2016.