June has come to a close here in the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers Replay, and we’re ready to recap another thirty days of stimulating Brew Crew ball. 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 certain things had happened differently in 2011, could the Brewers have made it to the World Series…. and won?"
So far after replaying 83 games, the Brewers sit atop the NL Central division with a win-loss record of 54-29 – second best in all of baseball. They finished June with a 16-11 record, three games under their performance in May (19-10). They are 10.5 games above the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs who are tied for second in the division. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 13 games back, and the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros have all but fallen out of contention.
(see complete league standings and leaders; AL and NL)
In real life, the Brewers were 44-38 at the end of June, and tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In our replay, the Brewers are projected to win at least 96 games by season’s end.
After June so far, we can see a few interesting highlights starting to emerge. The most notable of these is the addition of Mat Gamel to the lineup. In real life, Gamel was a non-factor in the fortunes of the Brewers during 2011, finishing the season with 26 at-bats and a batting average of .115. In our Replay, he started the season on the bench, coming in from time-to-time as a pinch hitter. During June, however, (right around June 13th) I grew tired of Casey McGehee’s prolonged slump, so I polled the fans, and it was decided that we would sit McGehee, and give Gamel a shot at third base. Up until that point, Gamel had 7 at-bats, 1 home run, 1 run, 2 RBIs, and a batting average of .143.
Once in the lineup, Gamel was unremarkable. I started to wonder if things would remain that way. In terms of production, he wasn’t much of an improvement over McGehee. Defensively, he looked a bit better, but offensively…. not at all promising.
In our June 20th game against the Tampa Bay Rays, however, Mat Gamel proved otherwise. He led the charge with a 4 for 5 game, scoring 4 runs, and driving in four runs, including a 3-run home run in the eighth inning (his second of the season). The Brewers went on to rout the Rays 13-3.
Since June 20th -- the last nine games of June, Mat Gamel has gone 15 for 37, scored 7 runs, drove in 11 RBIs, and hit 3 home runs. His batting average during that stretch was a stunning .405. He’s played third base, and moved to the designated hitter spot for our recent inter-league games. So far in our Replay, he has played in 21 games with 67 at-bats. He has 9 runs, 14 RBIs, 22 hits, 1 triple, and 4 home runs. He’s hitting .328 at the close of the month.
At this rate, Gamel may have found a permanent spot in our line-up, all because Casey McGehee lost his mojo. Not bad for an early summer turn of events! One has to wonder too, could this indicate the possibility of a good real-life season for Mat Gamel in 2012? Perhaps. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Corey Hart has cooled off from his torrid start to the season. He’s only hit 2 home runs above the 13 he ended with in May. And his batting average sits at .255, eight points less than the .263 he posted at the end of last month. He has 46 runs and 56 RBI’s so far this season.
Ryan Braun has cooled a bit as well, although he’s added ten stolen bases to his total this month, bringing him to 44 on the season. In real life, he only had 19 stolen bases by the end of June.
Prince Fielder has seen a slight increase in production during our June Replay. At the end of May, he had 16 home runs, 37, runs, 45 RBI’s and a batting average of .245. By the of June, he sits at 21 home runs, 54 runs, 67 RBIs, and a batting average of .254. His 21 home runs are second-best in the National League, right behind Albert Pujols with 30.
On the pitching end of things, the Brewers starting rotation has remained solid, especially when it comes to Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. Greinke finishes the month of June with a record of 13-2, 133 innings pitched, 103 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.92. Yovani Gallardo has a record of 11-4, 137.2 innings pitched, 135 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.62.
In real life, both pitchers were not quite as good by the end of June. Gallardo was 9-4 with a 3.92 ERA. Greinke was 7-3 with an ERA of 5.63.
John Axford ends June with 26 saves, second in all of baseball to Brad Lidge of the Phillies with 27.
As of this blog post, we’ve already started simulating July. Upcoming events in the next 30 days include the real-life acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets, the departure of Wil Nieves to the Atlanta Braves, the addition of Felipe Lopez from the Tampa Bay Rays, and the arrival of Jerry Hairston from the Washington Nationals. We’ll also finish up a 3-game inter-league series against the Minnesota Twins at the beginning of the month, and see what happens at the All-Star game on July 12th.
The Brewers will be adding some integral faces this month, and they’ll look to continue their dominance in the National League Central, while fending off the desperate advances of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
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 Facebook page. Click "Like" and help us improve the Brewers’ fortunes with your own management input. We’ve played a lot of baseball so far, but we still have a lot to go. It’s exciting stuff! Come join us!