Have the Brewers struck gold?
By Benjamin Orr
One of the positives from this season so far is that we have seen four individuals absolutely prove their worth. Carlos Gomez, Norichika Aoki Martin Maldonado and Mike Fiers have each come into their own this season and all for different reasons. Heading into next season, players like these four, and even Jean Segura, make it fun to look forward to 2013. The talent of these four players has really given a new life to the team. This season has shown us that this Milwaukee Brewers team may have the stuff to contend next year and that picking up the pieces from this season may help that cause.
First: Carlos Gomez
For center field, the position was so wide open at the beginning of the year that Ron Roenicke didn’t stick anyone there permanently. With Nyjer Morgan’s struggles and Mat Gamel’s injury that put Corey Hart at first, the outfield became a little more role intensified. At first, Aoki played center field while Gomez was still the back-up, but this is something that has since changed (not that either man’s defense was bad). Since going into center field, Gomez has only committed three errors inside of 142 total chances giving him a fielding percentage of .986. He’s also helped turn three double plays and had three defensive assists. His speed in center field is also perfect as he’s had quite a few nice running catches.
Gomez’s bat has also been providing some solid production. While he is only batting .256 on the year, he does have 10 home runs, 30 RBIs and has scored 43 runs. In addition to his bat, on the bases Gomez is a terror for other teams. He’s stolen 21 bases and has only been caught stealing five times. Unless Morgan were to become the next Ryan Braun, I think Gomez has secured this position going forward.
Second: Norichika Aoki
Aoki was definitely one of the biggest mysteries going into this season. Originally planned out to be a platoon player, his role quickly changed and he soon became an everyday player. Aoki should had been an everyday player as soon as the season began, but what’s done is done. In right field, he’s learned to play that wall much better than Hart ever did and really, Aoki is such an unbelievable upgrade in right field that it’s insane. He’s also played left and center field. In 151 total chances in all of the outfield, Aoki has only committed one error which gives him a fielding percentage of .996. That’s incredible.
Offensively, Aoki is also pretty solid. In Japan, Aoki was a three-time batting champion and a stolen base champion. In America, Aoki may not be putting up the same numbers that he was in Japan, but he still plays a vital role. He’s currently batting .287 with six home runs, 25 RBIs and has 48 runs scored. Aoki does also have 22 extra base hits, three of which are triples. His speed is also a great thing about him. He’s stolen 14 bases, only being caught three times. He’s also fourth on the team in on base percentage at .354. Aoki was a great addition and I look forward to the upcoming seasons with him.
Third: Martin Maldonado
When Jonathan Lucroy‘s injury happened, nobody really knew who was going to catch everyday. With that role in a bit of a panic mode, the Brewers called up Maldonado from Triple-A Nashville. From the get go, Maldonado’s bat was making noise. His production dropped a little in the beginning of June, but ever since then, Maldonado has steadily been raising his average. Currently, Maldonado is batting .281 with six home runs, 22 RBIs and has scored 16 runs. Even though he’s now the back-up catcher, he’s great in a pinch hitting spot as he’s batting .284 with runners on.
Defensively, Maldonado has some room for improvement, but ultimately is impressive behind the plate. He’s thrown out seven runners out of 29 which gives him a caught stealing percentage of .194. He’s committed six errors, but inside of 431 total chances so his fielding percentage of .986 is actually pretty good. He’s also helped turn two double plays. Maldonado numbers defensively may not be as solid as Lucroy’s, but they’re well enough for the role that he has now. Going forward, if anything were to happen to Lucroy again (which we hope nothing does) we know we have a solid catcher to fill in for him.
Fourth: Mike Fiers
You’re all probably getting tired of us at Reviewing the Brew going crazy over Fiers, but it’s justified. With the Brewers’ starting rotation just trying to put the pieces back, Fiers stepped up in a big way. Shaun Marcum and Chris Narveson were both gone due to injury. Zack Greinke was bound to be, and eventually was traded. That left Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada and a struggling Randy Wolf. Fiers has taken the team on his back (if you get the reference, you are awesome) and delivered in big ways. He currently holds a 6-4 record with a 1.80 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 80 strikeouts through 80 innings pitched. His record in my mind should be at least 10-2 if you factor in no decisions and two losses in which he gave up two runs or less, but it’s all subjective.
In his flirt with history Tuesday night, Fiers threw six perfect innings against the Cincinnati Reds before a double broke it up in the top of the 7th. A lot of people will say that Fiers does not deserve the NL Rookie of the Year, but we here at Reviewing the Brew say otherwise. It’s not so much a bias with Fiers as it is just looking at his stats. He’s done nothing but dominant line-ups ever since he was called up this season. He’s also faced some pretty tough line-ups such as the Reds twice, the Cardinals, the White Sox, the Diamondbacks and the Nationals. Fiers has done more than enough in my mind to at least be in the talks for the Rookie of the Year, and if he continues to pitch the way he has all season, it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t win it.
These four players have added a lot of value to this team overall. While three of them are rookies, they certainly don’t play like it. The Brewers heading into next year may have some of their issues solved with these four, but overall, the team still has a lot of room to improve. I’m confident enough that 2013 will see a much better record from the Brewers and these four may be huge reasons as to why, aside from the obvious Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Until next time, go Brew Crew!