Well folks, the tragedy known as May has almost passed us over. While the default position in Brew Crew Nation may be to pull out our shovels and bury our collective heads a little further in the sand, we have taken it upon ourselves to shed some positive light on this month. Sure, it may be objectively one of the worst months in the history of the Milwaukee Brewers, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
Here are our monthly awards for the Milwaukee Brewers that went above and beyond in May.
Player of the Month: Jean Segura
As if there was any doubt. The young Brewers shortstop is quickly putting together the season of a lifetime in Milwaukee, and baseball fans across the country are beginning to take notice. In May, Segura posted a .351/.380/.544 slash line, knocked in five home runs, and stole seven bases. Word is he’s also developing a cut fastball in case we need him to spot start.
In short, there is little that Jean Segura won’t do in order to help the Brewers win. His strikeout rate was a bit high in May, totaling about 14% (compare that to the amazing 3.8% of Norichika Aoki, who struck out just 4 times in 103 at-bats in May) but if he lacked anything in plate discipline, he more than made up for it with 10 of his 40 hits falling for extra bases, to say nothing of his monumental defensive presence.
While there were plenty of good candidates for this month’s award (read: the top five of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup), no one seems to be playing the game with the same flair and natural instincts of Jean Segura – thus flash and substance win the day for the shortstop.
Starter of the Month: Marco Estrada
Marco Estrada won the staff vote (thanks to one vote for “literally nobody” and
one vote for “None” – both of which are very acceptable answers in their own right), and he probably deserves it the most considering how dismal the starting pitching has been. If even one other starter was on his game in May, Estrada’s month may have gone unnoticed – which is pretty much Estrada’s M.O.
That notwithstanding, Estrada had a decent month on the hill for the Brewers in May, so long as we don’t really count his start on May 5th where he got battered by the St. Louis Cardinals (though he has plenty of company in the Milwaukee clubhouse on that regard.) For the rest of the month, he did basically what Marco Estrada does – he went seven innings thrice in May, a wondrous event for Milwaukee starters who seem content to put in half-days on the mound. He struck out 25 batters and also picked up three wins.
It wasn’t the prettiest month from a pitcher – but then consider the alternatives. Marco Estrada will likely never be a ballyhooed pitcher in the Major Leagues. But he will put in consistent work, eat innings, and keep the Milwaukee Brewers in the game almost every time he’s on the mound. Considering he was the only starter to do so, he wins the award for May.
Reliever of the Month: Burke Badenhop
Burke Badenhop just plain worked his butt off in May for the Milwaukee Brewers. In truth, there wasn’t a wrong answer for this month’s award, as the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen became a well-oiled machine in May. Across the board they started lowering their ERA, BABIP, walk rate and have limited big innings and runs throughout the month. None of that means much in the grand scheme of a crappy month but hey, silver linings and all.
Perhaps chief among those relievers is Burke Badenhop. Opponent’s batting average against Badenhop dropped from .333 in April to a paltry .146, and he turned up his attacks on hitters to fan 14 batters in 48 at-bats against him. He walked a few more batters this month, but hitters could hardly do anything with the opportunities against him. He gave up only two earned runs on seven hits for the whole month, and became a dependable – and dare I say calming – presence out of the bullpen.
Rookie of the Month: Unfilled
The Milwaukee Brewers don’t have a lot of qualified rookies on their squad in 2013, and those that do qualify played so poorly as to leave this award empty for the month of May, because we did not really feel like giving this award to the least awful player. Let that be a lesson to you, rookies. Get your stuff together, guys.
Most Improved: Mike Gonzalez
Gonzalez received votes in reliever of the month as well, and there were plenty of good candidates for this award, which we will list in the “honorable mentions” below. But by far and away, Gonzalez deserves this award. Here’s why:
In April, Gonzalez was a waking nightmare – an ERA north of four, 11 hits, six walks, four earned runs and two losses in eight and one-thirds innings pitched. He made Brewers fans squirm in their seats whenever he got on the hill.
In May, it was the complete opposite. He pitched ten and two-thirds innings, compiled a 1.69 ERA, struck out three more batters than he did the previous month (a total of 15) gave up just two runs, and brought his WHIP down from 2.040 to 1.125. Batting average against him dropped from .314 to .179. In short, he started to do everything right. I wish he would walk less batters, but nobody’s perfect. But then, no one else has turned around their short season quite in the way that Gonzalez has, and so he wins the Most Improved Player in May.
John Axford(most improved): the Ax man got votes for reliever of the
month and most improved player – and the box scores largely bear that out. He had 11 scoreless innings in May, despite starting in a pretty big hole by giving up three earned runs on the first. After that he was practically perfect – only two more earned runs and 14 strikeouts through the rest of the month. The nine walks and five earned runs held him back from both Most Improved and Reliever of the Month, but our buddy John Axford continues to work well against a tide of public opinion to the contrary.
Norichika Aoki (player of the month, most improved): Aoki went on a tear through May, owning a .340/.398/.417 line and proving to be an almost impossible out. He also hit five doubles and racked up six RBI. His April wasn’t the greatest, but only if you compare it to how we perceive Aoki as a ballplayer. He hit .250 in April, but also walked 12 times, hit four doubles and three home runs. So it wasn’t so much of an improvement as it was a shift in his game. Either way, you can consider Aoki a top awards candidate until further notice.
Francisco Rodriguez (most improved): Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Laughable as it seems, Frankie put in a good five innings on his trip from the bottom back to the top (or if not the top, somewhere in the middle). He even picked up a save. Good for you, sir.
Jim Henderson (reliever of the month): A perfect three-for-three in saves, a 1.17 ERA through seven and one-thirds innings, eight strikeouts and only one earned run. Give someone else a chance, will ya? If Henderson can keep up what he’s doing in the back end of the bullpen, it’s only a matter of time until he gets noticed on a larger scale for his efforts as a closer. But then, we need save situations for that.
So there you have it – as you can see, things aren’t all doom-and-gloom in Milwaukee. So long as you aren’t just looking at the box scores.