Earlier this week, the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America presented the Brewers with their post-season awards for the 2012 season.
The good news about presenting these awards on a team-by-team basis is that there is little controversy about who deserves what award – stand outs on a club are easier to determine than comparing them to other players around the league.
The bad news is that it’s not going to stop us from generating other deserving candidates in the name of discussion and soap-boxing, along with a more general sense of jealousy that we aren’t yet invited to take on such prestigious responsibilities.
MVP – Ryan Braun
Braun was the obvious shoo-in for this award, which he was give for the second consecutive season. These sorts of things are bound to happen in unanimous fashion when you put up a 40/30 season, drive in 112 runs, hit .319 and post an OPS of .987. Suffice it to say, Braun was the cornerstone of the Milwaukee Brewers offense for nearly the entire 2012 season.
Yo put together a remarkable season after a rough start including a shelling or two at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, but was nearly utouchable after the All-Star Break.
Aramis Ramirez, on the other hand, was uquestionably one of the pieces in this Milwaukee lineup that kept things moving. When Ramy started to get hot, the Brewers came along with him. There is also something to be said for his place behind Braun in the lineup and the advantages that his performance swung in Braun’s favor. Ramirez is no Prince Fielder, to be sure, but his presence in the lineup should not be overlooked.
Pitcher of the Year – Yovani Gallardo
The obvious pick here, since there was no Greinke to contend with after the All-Star break. But Gallardo once again struck out over 200 batters, and racked up 16 wins for the club while posting a 3.66 ERA. He recorded only two losses down the stretch, one on July 28th after which he went a prefect 6-0 and did not record another loss until his final start of the season against Houston. Gallardo proved a lot of people wrong who thought he had lost something in 2012, and helped turn his year – and the Brewers’ season – back into elite levels.
Other Deserving Candidates – Marco Estrada
In truth, there really wasn’t anyone else up to Yo’s level in 2012. Mike Fiers started out tremendously, but his collapse later in the season puts him out of contention. Wily Peralta did not have the depth of experience to be honestly considered, though he shows great promise moving forward. No one wants to talk about to the bullpen so we can throw them out as well.
That leaves Marco Estrada, who very quietly had a fantastic year for Milwaukee on the hill. Estrada went 5-7 on the year in 23 starts, struck out 143 while earning a 1.14 WHIP and a 3.64 ERA. He posted nine quality starts on the season and cemented himself a place in the rotation. He didnt have the year Gallardo had by any stretch of the imagination, but he was one of the most consistent and well-performing of the Crew’s pitching staff.
Top Newcomer – Aramis Ramirez
Ramirez won this award because, well, who else would? Ramirez helped add a spark
to the Milwaukee offense with 50 doubles, a .300 average and 105 RBI on the 2012 season. It was statistically one of the best seasons he ever had in his long career and was almost enough to help propel the Brewers into the post-season.
Other Deserving Candidates – Norichika Aoki
Truthfully speaking, Aoki is the only other player who could come close to toppling Ramy as Top Newcomer. Aoki was playing in his first year in the United States after a highly decorated career in Japan, and seemingly nothing was lost in translation. Aoki hit .288 on the year with 37 doubles, 30 stolen bases and 10 home runs – proving himself to be every bit the versatile performer we were promised going into the 2012 season. Aoki played consistently well all season, and was valuable both offensively and defensively for the club. He missed out on this award, but finds himself still somewhat in the discussion for NL Rookie of the Year.
Unsung Hero Award – Marco Estrada
Estrada was the tough-luck pitcher of the year for Milwaukee in 2012, as we mentioned earlier, but he put together a string of great performances in a year that few fans or baseball minds saw him playing a part in the starting rotation. He preformed above expectations in a situation that was unexpected of him, and for that he garnered enough votes to seal the award.
Other Deserving Cadidates - Martin Maldonado
This is one award where I disagree with the BBWAA’s decision. What did you really think I could go the whole article without sticking it to them a little bit?
Yes, Marco Estrada did have a wonderful year. Yes, he did not get a lot of credit for the job he did. But, in fairness, there were a lot of people who knew that Estrada had a year like 2012 in him.
Maldonado is a different story entirely. When he came up early in the season to help fill the gap left by Jonathan Lucroy and his murderous suitcase, no one knew much of anything about him. His Minor League stats suggested he would be back down the minute Lucroy was re-activated. But the Machete went to work almost immediately, and put up a .266 average in 78 games. He put up eight home runs and tallied 95 total bases – not bad for a kid nobody counted on sticking around. He earned George Kottaras‘ backup job and proved to be a very good defensive catcher considering his age and the stage he was on. It took a lot of young guys stepping up to help keep Milwaukee afloat, and few people stepped up like Maldonado.
Good Guy Award – John Axford
First off, this sort of sounds like the participation medal of post-season awards. “Hey, you weren’t good enough for any real awards, but we all really like you. So here you go.”
But in all seriousness, this is an award that’s certainly befitting this team, and even more so a guy like Ax. John Axford had a very up-and-down year, but through it all maintained a position of leadership, mentoring, and respect to the younger players and especially a bullpen that desperately needed it. He participated widely in charitable events in the community, and even gave away his trademark crazy haircut for Locks of Love. He kept a positive attitude throughout the darkest days in 2012, and never stopped believing in this club.
Other Deserving Candidates – The Milwaukee Brewers
Kind of a cop out, I’ll admit, but it’s not far from the truth. This year the Brewers was a collection of (mostly) really good people both on and off the field. Rickie Weeks was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, Corey Hart gave loads of time to the community and sacrificed his comfort zone in right field to help the team. Nyjer Morgan gave instructional days to community children at Miller Park. Throughout the Brewers organization, men and women involved with the team helped to strengthen the connection between the team and its fans.
You’re all winners in my book.