MILWAUKEE — With all-star rosters set to be announced on Sunday afternoon, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke seemed relatively confident that he would see two of his players make the exclusive list.
Of course, some of that could change with the fans voting in all-star starters, but the numbers lend themselves to having both left fielder Ryan Braun and starting pitcher Zack Greinke represent Milwaukee on the National League’s roster when the all-star game kicks off on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
“I don’t know about (calling them locks),” Roenicke said. “But I would think so.”
Braun, who has started four consecutive all-star games — the most in Brewers’ history — has been in a deadlock with Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera for the third and final spot among National League outfielders. Of course, the first spot—currently held by injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp — will seemingly be replaced before the All-Star game, as Kemp isn’t expected to play for Los Angeles before the break.
And with numbers that more than rival his NL MVP season in 2011, Braun should be a near-lock to not only be selected but also to start in the game. Through nearly half of the 2012 season, Braun is batting .310 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. At the same point in his MVP campaign, through 71 games, Braun had a nearly identical average (.311) with five less home runs and one less RBI. So it’s safe to say that Braun hasn’t taken a step back since last season.
For comparison’s sake, Braun’s stiffest competition in the fan vote — Melky Cabrera — leads the National League in hits and has a stellar average at .354. But his power numbers — he has just seven home runs 38 RBI — trail Braun by a significant margin.
As for Greinke, the competition will be significantly tougher, as pitching in the National League has been extraordinary this season, according to Roenicke.
Roenicke was especially impressed, like the rest of the nation has been, by likely NL starter and New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who leads major league baseball in wins (12), WHIP (0.885), complete games (3), and shutouts (2). He also owns a stellar 2.15 ERA in 16 starts.
“My gosh, how about that guy?” Roenicke said. “He’s throwing a harder knuckleball than anyone’s ever thrown.”
But Greinke, who has had quite the year of his own, is a likely candidate to get one of the innings behind Dickey (or whomever may start instead). With a 2.82 ERA that ties him for 14th in the league, Greinke will try to reach the 10-win plateau in his next start and trails only Dickey, Stephen Strasburg, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, and Clayton Kershaw in strikeout totals. He isn’t likely to get much consideration as the starter, but it’d be a surprise if he wasn’t selected as the Brewers’ second representative.
As for the rest of the roster, a slow start may have nixed any chance of third baseman Aramis Ramirez making the roster, despite a very productive June. The same can be said for former Brewers’ all-stars like Rickie Weeks, who had struggled all season long before picking it up recently. Weeks, Braun, and departed first baseman Prince Fielder were all starters on last year’s NL roster.