After one of the best individual seasons in Milwaukee Brewers history in 2012 — a season that could very well result in another NL MVP award — Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was recognized this week by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America as the Brewers’ most valuable player.
The voting was unanimous for Braun, who led the league in home runs, runs and slugging percentage. He finished with a .319 batting average, 41 home runs — his first 40 home-run season — and 112 RBI.
But Braun wasn’t the only unanimous honoree from the BWAA this week, as right-hander Yovani Gallardo was named Brewers pitcher of the year. Gallardo’s impressive season picked up after ace Zack Greinke was traded in late July. Gallardo finished with an 8-1 record in that span, and the Brewers won 11 of his final 12 starts. Gallardo also put together his fourth consecutive season of 200 or more strikeouts, which extended the Brewers record he had set last season. Overall, he finished with a 16-9 record with a 3.66 ERA, enough for the organization to trust him as the team’s ace going forward.
Another award handed out by the BWAA was near unanimous, as closer John Axford won the association’s “Good Guy” award for his accommodating nature with the media all season. Axford struggled for much of the season as the Brewers closer, even relinquishing the role for a short period in the middle of the year.
But Axford always had a positive attitude through his struggles, even leaving a note at his locker on the night his 49 consecutive saves streak ended — as he tended to his wife, who was suffering from premature labor pains in the hospital. Corey Hart, Carlos Gomez, Marco Estrada and Nyjer Morgan also received votes.
As for the other, closer award races, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was named Newcomer of the Year, while Marco Estrada was awarded the unsung hero award.
Ramirez calmed the anxieties of Brewers fans who thought Prince Fielder could never be replaced in the team’s cleanup spot by batting .300 with 50 doubles, 27 home runs and 105 RBI. He was followed in voting by right fielder Norichika Aoki and right-hander Mike Fiers.
For Estrada, who barely surpassed Gomez and backup catcher Martin Maldonado as the team’s unsung hero, the award was a justification of his deceptively great season. He finished with the best ERA among starters on the team (3.64) and also tallied 143 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings, while putting together the best September of any pitcher on the roster.