EDITOR'S NOTE: As the Brewers enter the final week of spring training, the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers Replay project is also closing in on the home stretch. Jon Baas is here to update us on the project's progress through August, and we'd encourage you to follow the games on Facebook as he heads into September.
Alright folks… we need your support!
The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers Replay on Facebook has finished yet another month of games. It’s the end of August; we’re heading into the final stretch of the regular season. The race is heating up, the Brewers are still on top, but the Cardinals are threatening a comeback. Can our Replay Brewers win the NL Central title, and fight their way into the 2011 World Series?
Here’s where things stand with 25 games to play:
At the end of August, we’ve played 137 Brewer games. The team remains at the top of the NL Central, but only with 10.5 games separating them the playoff-hungry St. Louis Cardinals. The Crew have a stunning 89-48 record, still the best in baseball, although, the New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies aren’t far behind. They’ve finished the month with an August record of 16-11 (a few games below their July record of 19-8; and on par with their performance in June).
As far as the rest of the division, the third-place Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to keep pace with the Cardinals as the two teams seek to represent the Central Division in the Wild Card Race. The Chicago Cubs had a weak month, dropping down to twenty games back. And, as has been the case for most of the season, the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros aren’t worth mentioning. They both sit at more than thirty games behind the first-place Brewers.
(see complete standings, leaders and wild card races: AL and NL)
In real life, the Brewers were 81-56 at the end of August – 8.5 games better than the second-place Cardinals. If you do the math, our Replay Brewers are only nine games better than their real-life counterparts. That means that both versions of the team are progressing along similar paths.
In our replay, the Brewers are still projected to win 104 games by the end of September.
So, now that we have the basics out of the way, what stood out on the field?
Well, first of all there’s Prince Fielder. Right now, he’s third in the National League in slugging percentage (.586), he’s second in on-base percentage (.421), and he leads the entire league in home runs with 43. In real life, at this point in the season, he only had 29 long-balls. His season total was 38. So, for whatever reason, he’s tearing up the league right now. And it’s helping the Brewers win games!
Then there’s Ryan Braun. His batting average in our replay currently sits at .291. In real life, he ended August with a BA of .333. So, his production is a bit lower, although his home runs are about the same. He was in a slump for most of the month, and only now is breaking out. He had a two-home-run game on August 31, bringing his total to only six four-baggers in August.
Where Braun really shines, though, is in his speed and his base-running. He’s been successful on the base paths, so I’ve been giving him the go-ahead to steal more often. It’s helped the Brewers out of many a double play with Fielder hitting ground balls in the number four spot. In real life, Braun finished the 2011 season with 33 stolen bases. In our Replay, however, he’s sitting on 63 steals in 84 attempts. And there’s still a month to play. Call it unrealistic if you want, but he’s getting the job done. Those steals have put him into scoring position on second, and have helped pad his current 104 runs with Fielder and Hart behind him in the lineup. At the end of the real 2011 season, Braun only had 109 runs.
Elsewhere in the lineup, we have Mat Gamel. As all of you know from previous recaps here on Brew Crew Ball, Gamel has been the biggest surprise of our Replay season. In real life, he was a non-factor. He only had 26 at-bats and racked up a not-so-impressive .115 batting average. In our Replay, however, Gamel has been on fire! We needed him to fill in earlier in the season when Casey McGehee fell into a prolonged slump (which he’s still struggling with, for the record), and Gamel’s stats just took off! As of the end of August, Mat Gamel has had 238 at-bats in 68 games. He has 36 runs, 42 RBIs, and 13 home runs. Yes, Gamel is hitting long-balls. His batting average currently stands at .303. His fielding isn’t always the best, and he’s cooled off a bit from his torrid start, but he’s driving in runs and helping the team rack up the wins. McGehee wasn’t doing that. So, Gamel has earned himself the third base job.
When it comes to the rest of the lineup, let’s just say…. power is one of the things the Brewers have in abundance. In fact, the simulation currently rates the Brewers as having the best Power Ranking in all of baseball. Yes… #1. As of the end of August, the Brewers have an NL-leading 174 home runs, one better than the Colorado Rockies with 173. The Chicago White Sox lead the AL and all of baseball with 192.
The current Brewers home run leader board looks like this:
- Prince Fielder – 43
- Ryan Braun – 26
- Rickie Weeks – 24
- Corey Hart – 24
- Mat Gamel – 13
- Jonathan Lucroy – 13
- Casey McGehee -- 13
On the pitching side of things, Zack Greinke continues to impress. I’d even say he’s a contender for the Cy Young Award! As of the end of August, he has a stunning record of 22-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 222.1 innings pitched. He’s a beast on the mound. Something clicked early on, and he’s been dominant ever since. Of course, it helps that the lineup is going deep and piling up the runs, but still, something has to be said about his work ethic. He’s a Cy Young ace, no question about it.
Of course, the fun thing about the Milwaukee Brewers is that they don’t have just one ace. Yovani Gallardo fills that role as well. In our replay, Gallardo has an equally stunning win-loss record of 17-6. He’s got an ERA of 3.26 in 218.1 innings, and is five below the National League lead in strikeouts with 225 (Tim Lincecum has 230).
Of the five Brewers starters, Chris Narveson is the only one with an ERA above 4.00. His sits at a respectable 4.37. The other four don’t go above 3.74. I’d call that a great starting rotation!
In fact, Narveson has the highest ERA on the team. None of the regular relievers in the bullpen go above 3.43. Francisco Rodriguez (who will, unfortunately, be on the Disabled List for most of September) has the best bullpen ERA at 2.16, followed by John Axford at 2.80. And, of course, as noted in previous recaps, Axford still leads all of baseball with 39 saves.
Transactions of note in August consisted of only one – Brett Carroll was granted free agency on August 3rd, an event that took place in real life. In our Replay, he was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Now that we’re into September, there are only two transactions that must happen: Adrian Rosario and Danny Herrera are headed to the Mets on September 1st to complete our July 12th trade for the injured Francisco Rodriguez. And, Felipe Lopez is slated to be released into free agency on September 30th. We’ll also be gaining our top minor leaguers as all rosters expand on the first of the month.
We’re starting the final month of the regular season, folks. The Brewers look like a lock for the NL Central title, but the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t out yet. And, if the Cardinals can’t overtake the Brewers for the division title, they’re one of the top contenders for the NL Wild Card. We’ve got 25 games to go yet; anything can happen. The Brewers are hot… The Cardinals are warming up again…. And the post-season is just around the corner. Can the Brewers make it to the World Series and "change history"?
Join us and find out!
To participate in our exciting 2011 Milwaukee Brewers Replay on Facebook, to follow along in your feed, or, if you’d like to help manage the team directly, come check out our Facebook page. All the stats are there. All the play-by-plays go straight to your feeds. That’s the place to be!
Come check us out. Click "Like", and join the red-hot Replay Brewers as they seek a spot in the 2011 Playoffs – and, a much desired defeat of the real-life World Series champions!