The Milwaukee Brewers come out of the All Star Break atop the NL Central by 5.5 games, with a record of 50-41. They have six players with double-digit home runs (with Jesus Aguilar a home run away), and lead the National League in that category.
Travis Shaw and Eric Thames had All Star worthy first halves, but the only action the Brewers saw over the break was a wave for Corey Knebel during Tuesday’s pre-game introductions.
Blame it on being a small market team if it makes you feel better, but to the national sports media and fans, Milwaukee is no different than the Brewers of 2014.
Those Milwaukee Brewers got to 51 wins with only 32 losses, before skidding into the All-Star Break at 53-43. Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy and Francisco Rodriguez all saw action in the Mid-Summer Classic, and Lucroy was two for two against Chris Sale and Jon Lester. But something wasn’t right and Brewers fans could already feel it.
By September, the Cardinals were up a game and had restored order in the division, and a summer’s worth of dreams were on their way down the drain.
This year’s team is only together because the 2014 team fell apart.
So why is 2017 different?
For starters, the Milwaukee Brewers starters. The Opening Day line-up had but one familiar face from 2014, and that of course was Ryan Braun. He has been far from the star of this 2017 team, but his mentoring to these young hitters is going wildly underappreciated.
They have ascended into the All Star Break and still feel on the rise, which is a great contrast to 2014’s skid. They have a dozen guys competing against each other for regular playing time, which is healthy in the supportive atmosphere they have developed. At the same time, that competition gets everyone the rest they need for a season long grind.
Beyond the playing field, we have a fresh manager in Craig Counsell fostering the newfound team chemistry, and a General Manager in David Stearns pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The old way of the Yankees and Cardinals assembling teams has not had the success it did in the early 2000s.
The way the Royals, Cubs, Indians and especially the Astros seemed to come out of nowhere has renewed real hope for Brewers fans. As far as Tuesday’s All-Star Game game goes, the folks who care least about being snubbed should be the ones that will be back between the lines at Miller Park on Friday.
Summer love is fun, but every Brewer on the roster would prefer the nation fall in love with them in October.